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Chapter 90
-2-
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Courtney called last night, said Mrs. Parker “acted creepy” at the memorial service, and she was staying away from the funeral. I promised to watch for anyone or anything suspicious and call her immediately after I got home.

I wish I could avoid funerals. However, in a small town, a funeral is a social obligation. Not that I particularly mind the actual service; it provides necessary closure. It is just, at my age, there seem to be so many of them!

At first I could not imagine why in the world parents would choose to bury their daughter in the place where she died – a place she never lived. Ruth Ellen Hayes found out. Yes, I was on Ruth’s call list, as much as I hate to admit it. It was the best way to keep up with the happenings in Connors Station, especially with my age group.

It seems it was not hard for Mr. Ferguson to convince the Parkers this was the best place to bury their daughter. He pointed out the gossip surrounding such a death and that the memories of others seemed to reside at the place the person last visited, whether they visited in life, or in death. Therefore, it would be in their daughter’s best interest not to have the funeral in her home town of Misawa, Missouri, but in Connors Station.
Ferguson inherited the business from his father. I remembered playing hide-and-seek with his sister in the display coffins and other dark recesses of the funeral home, which was why death and funerals held no fear for me. Ferguson’s sister married after college and moved out west. She had a falling-out with her family over her career choice, fine art. Her Puritanical father thought art a useless occupation. I do not remember her coming back after her marriage. I doubt many of her former classmates and friends gave her much thought. I seldom did, except at funerals when I remembered our play place, unchanged since my childhood.

Although the physical appearance of the home remained unchanged, Ferguson updated the business with the latest in coffins and accoutrements. He had a web site and offered a variety of creative options for services. Ferguson could even videotape the service if the family desired, although I do not recall anyone taking advantage of that service yet.

I arrived early so I could watch those attending arrive.  Cal stood inconspicuously outside by his car, keeping an eye on things, ready to lead the hearse with its coffin to the cemetery for graveside services.

I saw no strange face in the crowd. However, a few were missing – Doc, the professor, and Betty from the Downtown Diner. Doc and the professor might have felt they did their duty by attending the memorial service. The Downtown Diner closed on Monday, so Betty had no reason to be absent. She always attended funerals, unless ill or unable for a good reason.
Since she did not know the Parkers, she may have felt her presence not socially required. I had not seen her at the viewing the night before, either. Others attended out of curiosity more than respect: Ruth Ellen Hayes, Grace Glisson, and some of their sisters in gossip. I saw Gallagher, Brother Sherwood’s wife, and a few of the more prominent citizens, a group of about twenty in all. Carol was there and I assumed the young lady with her was the new stylist I heard she hired recently.

Brother Sherwood did not perform the service and I was curious as to why, but either Grace or Ruth Ellen would find out and tell everyone. Ferguson did a good job, concentrating on Nancy’s youthful activities and career accomplishments. He kept it short and closed with a recording of her favorite non-religious song, a Bette Midler rendition of “Wind beneath My Wings.” We all followed the hearse to the cemetery for the graveside services. I think we all went out of a sense of guilt; such a small crowd and such a meaningless death. I know I felt obligated to see this funeral all the way to the end.

Brother Sherwood led the graveside prayer and read Psalm 23, again. As we left the Parkers after the closing prayer they were sitting with Mr. Ferguson and Brother Sherwood. My last glimpse of the Parkers was over my left shoulder as I was leaving. Mrs. Parker was sitting with Mr. Parker’s arm around her shoulders as she sobbed out her grief. She cried so little during the service, but I realized she probably did not want to break down in front of people she still considered strangers.

I neglected to call Courtney when I got home. There was, after all, nothing to tell. I decided to spend the evening reading and sorting through some saved recipes for pickles and relishes, deciding which ones I wanted to make this year.

As I finished my task, my housecoat pocket startled me by ringing. I had been carrying my cell phone with me religiously, but this was the first time it rang. I asked Courtney to hold on for a moment while I put my recipes away, but she hung up. I checked the number and redialed her cell, but when she answered, she sounded miffed. The conversation was totally one-sided. I apologized for not calling after the funeral; she grunted. I explained I had not called because there was nothing to tell her; she answered with silence. I told her we would talk later; she hung up without a reply. So much for working together, I thought.

I made a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce from my garden and went outside in my house dress to eat while I watched the sun set. I thought about the whole situation. Nothing led one to the conclusion that Nancy’s death was murder. Yes, she died in a strange place of suspicious circumstances. But in the absence of a motive or any known connection to Connors Station, we could not even call her death a homicide. Would we ever know the details of her death? Did it even matter at this point? I was about ready to go back to my every day activities and leave Courtney, Nancy, and the entire situation alone, but then something happened to change my mind.
 


Comments

This is such a great story. Some parts are relatable to certain parts of life. Like the main character's desire to avoid funerals. Most people, don't like the thought of funerals, it is a sad event. It's the passing of someone they love. It makes them think about how short life really is, and someday their moment to pass will come.

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07/05/2017 11:48pm

God created mankind from dust. When our bodies die, our spirit returns to God who gave it. I believe it is the most important thing that God is doing in His plan that short space of time where the manifested 100 fold fruit bearing immortal sons of God stride the earth preaching the kingdom of God, healing and raising the dead as Christ did. The council in heaven, I believe, are our spiritual bodies that look like us here on earth. And they shall swallow us up mortality swallowed up of life. So, that is the enlightenment that we all should be groaning and travailing in pain together for that day, as the man of sin comes to full power for a short season.

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07/06/2017 3:41am

God created mankind from dust. When our bodies die, our spirit returns to God who gave it. I believe it is the most important thing that God is doing in His plan that short space of time where the manifested 100 fold fruit bearing immortal sons of God stride the earth preaching the kingdom of God, healing and raising the dead as Christ did. The council in heaven, I believe, are our spiritual bodies that look like us here on earth. And they shall swallow us up mortality swallowed up of life. So, that is the enlightenment that we all should be groaning and travailing in pain together for that day, as the man of sin comes to full power for a short season.

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Susan Box Mann, Writer