Yesterday, I was awakened by my father-in-law with the news that his sister had passed away. This was no real shock. Aunt B was in a nursing home and was in her eighties. Her physical health was failing, but her mind was still sharp and her wit, biting.
Now begin the rituals of the quintessential small town Southern funeral. The body will not be viewed in a funeral home, but in the small Baptist church this aunt attended. There will be a visitation the night before the service. Family will be coming in and no one will be staying in any motel. Local family members will house the "out of towner's" who come in.
Although this is a solemn occasion, the time before and after the funeral service will be more like a family reunion. Southern "funeral food" will be out in abundance. Homemade pound cake, green bean casserole, stuffed eggs, and fried chicken are practically mandatory at the post funeral gathering back at the home of the bereaved.
People will cluck over how much the children have grown and vow to get together on some other occasion than a funeral. Family gossip will be caught up on. Hugs will be given and received. Stories about the deceased will be shared and laughed over.
A mixture of happy and sad. Just what a funeral should be.