The Mattoon Graveside Memorial Service
There were sixteen of us, including Sharon and me. A ninety nine year old Aunt, who stayed in her car. A ninety five year old Aunt, who sat in a folding chair. Cousin Ida Mae, at ninety one, who I'd collected in Fort Wayne and chauffered to Mattoon, who tried unsuccessfully to refuse a folding chair. And an assortment of other cousins, mostly local but including two Professors Emeritus who'd flown in from the west coast. It was bitterly cold with light snow.
I'd put some of each of my parents' ashes in simple but elegant wood urns made by Trappist monks. I welcomed the gathering. Sharon, who's an ordained UCC minister, read from her book. I spoke for a few minutes. Sharon read again. Then we each shoveled in some dirt — the flat black earth of middle America — while Sharon read the ashes to ashes prayer. I think she was using the Methodist book but I really wouldn't know the difference. One of the local cousins, in his mid-seventies, of whom I'm quite fond, had insisted we all say the Lord's Prayer. I'd acquiesed. That ended the service. The whole thing took about fifteen minutes.
It had to be done. I think I did a good job. May they rest in peace.