On a beautiful rural hillside caressed by balmy warm weather, we said goodbye to the body of Gerald's youngest brother after his long fight with heart problems. We knew Keith was in a better place and no longer in that beautiful wood coffin as we listened to the final words of his pastor. Barbara's parents and others of Keith's family were already buried in this rural cemetery not far from Keith and Barbara's home where the long funeral procession had stopped briefly for Keith's dog Hash to join us for this final farewell.
Our great niece Jennifer Jade Escue
from Kansas City hurried to our car and joined Gerald helping me
tranverse the upward climb on the soft thawed groud to the tent
waiting over the grave site. Before we left, all were invited to go
on to the church fellowship hall a hill or so away. Amid the
visiting, some were taking a rose from flower arrangements to
remember Keith with. Keith had been honored in every way his many
friends and family could accomplish.
From Thursday morning when Gerald
along with others of Keith's family saw Keith peacefully breathe his
last breaths shortly after his pastor had visited and offered what
turned out to be a final prayer with him, everyone wanted to remember
all the good things Keith and Barbara had done for others.
Our granddaughter Leslie was already up
in northern Illinois for the high school state speech contest on
Saturday that her sister Cecelie was in, so Les had planned to stop
at the farm on way home to Nashville. Now our daughter Jeannie and
husband Rick also came down to grieve with us. It was good to be able
to worship with them on Sunday morning. Although a previous
appointment made it impossible for Leslie to stay over for the
funeral, she did delay her drive back to Tennessee until after the
visitation for Keith. There she was not only able to see our daughter Mary Ellen and husband Brian but her cousins Trent and Brianna as well as more distant cousins--some of whom she had never met.
Sunday evening we gathered at the
funeral home on the Jonesboro Square, where in the past we have said
goodbye to so many family members and friends.The line of grievers
soon reached the bank next door, and the people kept coming until
time to go home. While some had arrived from a distance, most were
neighbors and local friends. Barbara and her sons and their spouses
and the grandchildren and great grandchildren were hugged over and
over as they listened to the expressed grief and affection. Sometimes
tears came down the cheeks of those already missing their friend, and
sometimes laughs and smiles were shared.
The next morning we gathered there
again for a funeral service that was joyful and reassuring as we bid
farewell to the dear one peacefully lying there with his hands
holding one of his late brother Kenny's pocket knives and also a
little metal angel a great grandson wanted Grampy to have. The pall
bearers had been asked to wear jeans with black shirts, and the word
had gotten around so those garments were seen throughout the
congregation as well. I was silently thanking God that our son Gerry
had arrived safely at 4:30 that morning after driving all night. His
cousin DuWayne had tried to dissuade him from making that hurried
trip, so I did not bother. I did try to not take away any of the
very brief rest time he had at our house, but I was glad to visit
with him a bit at that bountiful feast the church provided in the
large fellowship hall packed with people. Soon Gerry would start the
trip back to Texas to be at batting practice the next day, and we
took Jeannie and Rick to their car to start their long trip upstate.
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