Yes, I know, the staff meeting is supposed to be held on Monday morning but life has gotten away with me again.
The Farmer's cousin passed away last Friday. This is the third cousin in the last couple of years, all under 60 years of age. Yesterday was the visitation and it was quite sad to see Tom, her only child, struggling with his loss.
Susan was a truly wonderful person, a generous, non-judgmental and loving spirit. She struggled with serious health issues her entire life and I always felt that she had a tinge of sadness about what her life could have been. But she was a person who pushed past that and consistently worked to make her life the best it could be under the circumstances.
Thirteen years ago Susan's mother died and she was having a terrible time dealing with the grief. I shared with her a letter I'd written to the young man the Farmer and I were mentoring at the time. She cherished this letter and I know when her son Tom goes through her things he will find this tucked away somewhere. He'll recognize that he was the young man with the clean white gloves.
CLEAN WHITE GLOVES- August, 1998
Last weekend we played a practical joke on one of our friends. Ruthanne hosted a party on Friday night. She spent the whole week cleaning her house for the party, even though we didn't care if her house was clean or not. As a joke, one of the ladies brought a pair of clean white gloves. She walked into the party with a flourish and marched around, running her gloves over the furnitures to make sure Ruthanne hadn't missed a spot. My group of friend really like practical jokes.
Yesterday I had to attend another funeral. This was the second funeral in a week and they say the come in threes. Aunt Lu died on Tuesday and she was buried today. When I arrived at the funeral home her grandson Tom was standing in the lobby. He's 18 years old, just like you. He's tall, handsome and looking so grown up in his dark suit and tie. He was fidgeting with something in his hands. A piece of white paper I thought. When I looked closer I saw it was a pair of clean white gloves. He's been asked to serve as a pall bearer for his grandmother. You will be asked to do this sometime in the future. It's a rite of passage into adulthood.
There were a few brief words. We all filed past the open coffin for the last time. I went outside and waited in my car. The pall bearers filed out and I watched Tom as he slipped on his gloves. I know he was worried that his hands would slip on the pewter rail. He was standing in front on the right hand side. He didn't notice the other five pall bearers, grown men, his uncles and friends of the family. What he didn't know was that if his hand slipped these men would have taken the weight and no one would have noticed.
It was a long drive to the cemetery. We stood for one last time in the small air conditioned chapel. The priest said his final words and holy water was sprinkled on the coffin. The pall bearers were the last to leave. Tom removed his clean white gloves, placed them on his grandmother's coffin and walked out into the bright sunshine.
I drove a little too fast on the way home, listening to Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane".
"Oh my, my
Oh, hell yes.
Honey, put on that party dress.
Buy me a drink, sing me a song
Take me as I come 'cause I can't stay long."
I promise to drive a little slower. I don't want you to wear those clean white gloves for quite awhile.