The other day I received news that the Mother of my neighbor, Bill, passed away. The calling was at a funeral home in a small town near here. It's a small place, but very nice. The owners are a couple that live with their family in the back. They take care of everything between the two of them.
With larger funeral homes you have to say the name of the deceased so the door person can direct you to what room they are in, but with this place, there is usually only one there at a time. So I just walked on in when the Mrs opened the door. It wasn't hard to find everyone there. Lots of townspeople were there, as well as a few relatives of mine.
I made my way past the groups of people gathered in spots along the way to the room where the viewing was and found Bill. He had a beverage in his hand, and I walked up to him, and gave him a hug. I was kind of weird, as we just pass banters back and forth across the road, and help one another out sometimes. Just idle chit chat for the most part is the extent of our conversations. So here we are, in a funeral home, with his family and friends, and his dead Mother.
These things are so awkward. What in the world does one say. You can't harldy begin the conversation with "hi, how are you," as it's obvious that they aren't that great. So, I said hi, I'm so sorry, and kind of grabbed both of his hands. You could just tell he needed more than that, so I gave him a hug He said thanks for coming, and off we went to where the body was. I just hate that, and I could tell most everyone does too, as everyone was gathered outside or at the very edge of the room she was in. But then, when you think about it, we aren't all there for the body, we are all there for each other. So it makes sense.
I learned a few things about his Mother; she was 93, and he said she was really ready to go. Then, he starts talking about how hard it must have been to raise him, and his brother. I guess they were quite rowdy, and liked to get into trouble when they were young. You could tell he was running through events of the past in his head.
After a short while, I told him I was on my way to work, and needed to get going, so he started to walk me to the door. He put his arm around me, and his eyes started to get red and well up, and his voice got all shakey and said "Thanks for coming. It really meant a lot to me." I was doing so well up to that point. I lost it and started to tear up.
You know, we don't always realize how much a person can touch another. Everyone gets so busy, and we all have people we talk to often; but don't really talk to. You know what I mean? All of the people you see every day and say hi to, and fire off a quick "how are you?"
I guess in the years of hollering back and forth across the road, and the short chats about the weather, and our mole problems in the yard, and noting the small changes around the house and yard, can really mean more than a person thinks. Over the years, it turns into kind of a sense of a family, in a way.