Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I have always been extremely proud to be a Southerner...for many, many reasons...but, it all seems to come out the most at funerals…At the funeral today of a beloved friend, Carl Johnson..In today’s society it has become a rare commodity for people to take the time out of their day to attend a funeral…much less take the last journey with a beloved friend to their final resting place...

The funeral was lovely, well attended...the songs were the old hymns that we grew up on...the scriptures were thought provoking and comforting and the eulogue was touching with the kind of depth that can only be earned by a rich life well lived…the casket spray was a beautiful fall arraignment with graceful movement. It was cold, dreary, and rainy outside…But, the warmth from the comfort that we gave to each other stayed with us probably until each of us got home.
But, It was when I got into my car at the funeral home that the true feeling of the ritual took hold...fewer friends went to the cemetery than I thought should have..I have always wondered why one would not want to see a friend home safely...I suppose we don’t all see it that way...but I do...….when we drop a living friend off at their homes we always wait until they are safely inside until we pull off..We tell them “I’ll wait until you are inside until I pull off”...Somehow we feel that we need to say it and they need to hear it so that they will know that we really care about them...
This should be no difference when a death has occurred…we are indeed “going home” for the last time…

After we left the funeral home and pulled into usual, here in the South... the oncoming cars started pulling over as a show of respect…I was glad that I was alone in my car so that I could absorb the time honored show of respect for a stranger “going home” I remembered when then President Bill Clinton’s beloved mother, Virginia Clinton Kelley, died while The President was still in his first term in office...the funeral planning took a week, the funeral was held in our Convention Auditorium here in Hot Springs National Park Arkansas..

After the service, the two Presidential limousines followed the hearse... and the cortege that followed stretched for miles and miles and miles... I was in my car a few cars behind the front of the cortege...It was when we pulled onto Interstate 30 for the hour and forty five minutes from Hot Springs, Arkansas to the small hometown of Hope, Arkansas for the burial. It was then that I noticed that almost EVERYONE on the north bound side began to pull over as the hearse passed...this went on for one and a half hours…The most touching show of respect that I have ever seen was when I saw 18 wheelers pull over from their time crunched schedules to show their respect ….they not only pulled over.. They got out of their trucks and put their hats over their hearts... All for a perfect stranger…

Today, I saw the same respect shown for my friend, Carl Johnson, the owner of a local dry cleaners.


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  2. I have been to many, many a funeral in the godless north, in the suburbs of Washington DC, in New Jersey, in Massachusetts and in New York and I have never seen cars fail to pull over for a passing funeral procession.
    In my experience, northerners are no less courteous than others they are just less under the delusion that they have cornerned the market on courtesy.
    Perhaps this is because northern courtesy stems from breeding rather than calculation?
    Or perhaps we are overcompensating because we just never got over winning that war.