This past Sunday was a miserable day. Normally, I enjoy a gray, cool day. It’s an excuse to drink hot tea and day dream that I’m back in Ireland. As a farmer’s daughter, I welcome the rain, too, especially since our latest drought continues to grip our farm with dusty fingers.
No, the weather wasn’t the real reason for the misery. It simply added melodrama to the overall pall on the day.
My great aunt, Myra Jean, died last week one day after her 85th birthday. She was my across-the-road neighbor for about six of the eight years we’ve lived here. She moved into a care facility when her frequent falls threatened her fragile bones. Aunt Myra Jean had been a single parent to her three children since 1966, and she lived a long and happy life with four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She was gentle and soft-spoken and an asset to our community and family.
Her Sunday afternoon funeral was held at Old Union Primitive Baptist Church on the Smithfield Goldsboro Road, near Princeton. This one-room, white, clapboard church has weathered at least one century and maybe even several more decades if a story told about it is true. I’ve heard that when the northern troops marched through Johnston County during the Civil War, the soldiers relented from burning Old Union because of its name. (FYI, Primitive Baptists do have music, just no instruments. The choir chanted acappella hymns.)
Scenes from one of the few times I’d attended that church played in my mind on Sunday. My Aunt Jackie was eulogized there when I was six. She had just turned twenty in July, had planned her wedding for October, but died in a one-car crash in August. I have many memories about that funeral, but that’s a post for a different day.
While we watched the parking ushers under their big, black umbrellas direct the cars on the wet grass, our thoughts were with our dog, Claney. He’d been sick for about two months, and we’d been giving him big doses of medicine hidden in spoonfuls of cat food. When he wasn’t on his bed Sunday morning, I was mildly concerned. When he still wasn’t in our garage after church, we knew we needed to look for him. My husband found him in a group of trees by our pond.
His breathing was labored, and he was listless. We took his bed to him, whispered loving words, and covered him with on old bed spread. We expected to find him gone after returning from the funeral.
Instead, he hung on while we tried to keep him comfortable.
So we said goodbye to Aunt Myra Jean, tended Claney, forcing thoughts of a death watch out of our minds, and drove Hattie back to college on a misty, cold Sunday afternoon. A miserable day to be sure.
The next post is for Claney.