Wish You Were Here

September 15th 1992
Written as an English essay.

The small country church filled with family and friends, all mourning, trying to act as though they were not pleased to see one another. The same rules applied to funerals and to marriages in  the South. The motto here was, “If the Old did not die and the Young did not marry, no one would ever get together.”

What proper funeral or marriage does not have food? As always, Momma brought the Jello salad, Aunt Onvil brought her apple pie and Aunt Mae brought her fried chicken. Everyone respectfully filed into the sanctuary, viewed the body, then slipped out back to the fellowship hall and socialized around the coffee pot.

I stood at the back of the church holding my Daddy’s hand. Momma went to console the family. In Daddy’s other arm he held Jerah, my little brother. “Daddy they put Mamow in a box!” Jerah said. “Charity go find your Momma. I’m going to take Jerah home.” Daddy left. I was all alone. ” Find Momma O.K.” I tried hard but my mind just was not on Momma. All, I could think about was Mamow.

There she lay in her best royal blue dress and her snow-white hair caught up in its normal fashion. She looked like an angel. “Why, why did you have to die Mamaw? Next week I’ll be seven. Why before my birthday?’ As I came to the coffin I looked long and hard at the eyes that had smiled at me, the mouth that sang songs to me, and the hands that used to hold me when I needed someone to kiss it and make it better. I timidly stood on my tip toes and reached over to touch her hand.

I felt only the icy, hard, cold of Death that had taken the place of her grandmotherly warmth. Never had I felt anything like this before. I jerked my hand back quickly- surprised. This unforgiving fatal cold quieted my fears of her sitting up in her coffin and talking to me. I knew now she was truly gone.

Just then Martha tapped me on the shoulder startling me. “Now Charity stand right there and I’ll take your picture. Smile.” Martha snapped the button on her Polaroid and out came the picture. My smile was noticeably forced. It looked like a picture postcard that’s caption read “Wish you were here.” I was only six going on seven, and I was disgusted at these apathetic adults. Mamaw was gone and they were taking pictures.

Of the people who have passed through my life, there is one whom I remember with great fondness, Ruby Lou Sylvia Bethune, my grandmother. As I remember her, only images flow though my heart. These old weathered “snap-shots” are all I have left. The view I had of myself in the context of the World was greatly changed that night. My world was no longer whole, a piece of it was forever missing.

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