We're busy as a beehive...... switching things from trunk to trunk. The bulk of Joe's things (his personal belongings that I want) will be brought back to Maryland by Tom and Joe's friend, Paul Renshaw, who had driven to Tennessee. Jim's brother, Clyde, who is a long-haul truck driver had his dispatcher reroute him to Jackson, TN but he had to park his rig outside of town at a truck stop. Tom had to pick him up. Tom had been ferrying people around for the last few days. There are so many things to do..... so many people trying to coordinate these last couple of hours/days. Poor DeeDee had an appointment at her fertility clinic at 7:00 a.m the next day in Gaithersburg, MD, so she knew that she would not be able to drive the 5 hours to the burial site. I insisted that she continue with her plans. I knew, too, that my mother would never be able to make it through the funeral, then a 5 hour drive to the burial and then 2 hours back to the nearest airport!! That's too much even for the heartiest souls - a hell of a lot of people did it though! It was amazing how many people traveled from Batesville, AR to Jackson, TN and back again. The funeral is set for 10:00 a.m.
We arrive at the funeral home. Somehow - I can't remember how - we managed to walk in and be seated in the L shaped wing reserved for family members (kind of an old fashioned thing I think). Fortunately I could see the entire congregation of people........
The first person to open the ceremony - or proceedings - I don't have a clue what it's really called is a step-relative who is a devout Christian and a lay minister who lives right outside of Jackson, TN. I knew from the beginning that I would ask Jack. I have known him since he served in Vietnam - not intimately - but a part of the "step" family. I sure wanted a "man of the cloth" but not a freakin' Bible slapper that I knew nothing about. When I met with Jack the night before the funeral I told him right up front "no hellfire and brimstone bullshit". My mother just about passed out~:) Joe was a Christian (on the same lines as I am~:) and I wanted an ethereal tone but nothing too radical! So...... Jack did an amazing opening of the service.
Early on Jim had agreed to do the eulogy. Tom positively stated that he couldn't do it. I knew I couldn't (sorry now that I didn't). Jim stepped up to the plate. Jim was an eloquent speaker and had spent years publicly speaking so it was a natural for him, albeit incredibly emotional.
When Jack was done, Jim stepped up to the podium. He had been up all night putting the finishing touches on the eulogy and I had proofed it. Sometime I'll share that with you. It was honorable, upbeat, funny at times, and profoundly accurate. Joe would have loved it.
I think when Jim was done with the eulogy was when Guitar Joe played "The Cathedral". After that Jim invited the guests to speak. People in the South had never heard of a funeral service that became a "celebration of life" event. At first when Jim invited anyone who had something they wanted to share about Joe to get up and speak the whole place was silent. After a couple of minutes one person stood up. Then another, then another, then another.... pretty soon there must have been at least 40 or 50 people who stood and shared a memory of Joe. I had to laugh because as distraught as DeeDee was, after a few people spoke she got up and told the story about what a pain in the ass Joe was when he was little but how she came to love him~:)
One of his friends from Easton read a prayer. The step-fathers of his daughters told about their friendship with Joe and how they admired him. Someone who he had bought a little trailer from on a little piece of land told how proud he was of "his new house". The place was a shambles but Joe immediately painted the shutters and planted flowers. A man in his 50's told about how Joe gave him a job and believed in him - Joe gave him a second chance at life. A wonderful fellow who was of the darker persuasion (remember we're still in the South) stood up and told about how Joe believed in him, hired him and gave HIM a chance, which changed his life. This went on for a long, long time. Once the first person stood to speak it was as if everyone there needed to tell their story about what Joe meant in their life. It was so awesome and I was totally honored. I'm only sorry that I didn't have the opportunity to record it all.
Okay you guys...... death by words! I had no freakin' clue that on the funeral day I would have so much to say!
The journey from Jackson, TN to Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Cushman, AR (right outside of Batesville, AR) is a whole other story for another day.
Bless you both and thank from the bottom of my heart. What I have written over the last couple of weeks is virginity at it's finest. Not one other soul has ever heard the intimate details. Not one other soul has ever cared to hear it all. All of the people who profess to be my friends never, ever want me to talk about "it"!! It is too scary for them. Let's just sweep it under the rug and then it has never happened.
Just so you both know...... even my own husband didn't really want to know how I felt. Either he couldn't deal with it or he cared more about how it effected him rather than me. Oh well.... that's life in the fast lane!!