With Honours

Dad’s funeral was today. In short, he was interred with military honours at Lusk Cemetary here on The Mountain.

It was tough getting to sleep last night, but I finally did it, and was awakened by the alarm early this morning. I was far too tired — I have been this whole trip — but got up and got ready. Mom, Darla and I headed to the funeral home.

The parlour already had flowers and plants throughout it, and dad and his casket were waiting our approval. Mom wanted a closed-casket service, but the folks there wanted us to approve what they had done before closing it. Dad looked great in his flannel shirt and jeans. Beside him was his favourite hat. Sio had made dad a couple of angels to help him feel better, and the folks placed one under his folded hands, and the other next to his hips. Sio had sent down a flower for his chest, and they had already placed it above his heart. Mom had to leave before they sealed the casket — she couldn’t bear that. It was sealed, and the US flag was draped from end to end.

The three hours of visitation passed quickly — I was surprised. There was a constant flow of friends of mom and dad’s — some folks I didn’t know, many I had met throughout dad’s life, and many I had worked beside at IBM in the 80’s. All the while, the number of flowers and plants continued to mount.

Around 12.30, the funeral folks rolled the casket toward the chapel. Mom couldn’t bear that, either. There were many such times today. We had a prayer with the Mountain Pastor, and then made our way to the chapel.

The Mountain Pastor delivered a terrific service, and once again emphasized that dad had a relationship with the Lord — there was no doubt of his belief that dad was in heaven, smiling down on us. This whole ordeal was tough on the Mountain Pastor, as he was a dear friend of mom and dad.

We piled in the cars for the procession, and began the long drive to Lusk. There were at least twenty cars in the procession — I know that made mom feel warm. So many friends of dad’s showed up, and continued up to Lusk! Along the way, as is Southern tradition, cars stopped out of respect. I still think this is a wonderful piece of “good manners”.


Tribute (Click to see enlarged version)

As we drove toward the mountain, Kevio had arranged to have “Rest In Peace, Ramond B. Wright” on the storefront of the bait shop across the street from the boat launch. Mom fell apart, but so appreciated that this had been done.

As we climbed the mountain, the clouds built, and the torrential rains began. By the time we got to Lusk, most of the rain had stopped, and we all gathered under the tent. Mom, Kevio, Denise, Darla and I sat in front as the Mountain Pastor delivered his graveside message. It was short and comforting. The honour guard from Ft. Cambell played Taps, and folded the flag that had draped dad’s casket. They inserted rifle cartridges in the flag before the final fold — something I didn’t know they would do, but something that so befits dad. They delivered the flag into mom’s hands, and delivered a message which went something like “On behalf of the President of the United States, I thank you for the honorable service of your loved one.” The leader of the honour guard then shook each of our hands, and consoled us on our loss.

The crowd broke up, and began heading to mom’s house. Darla and I remained behind, and I tossed a red rose into the grave before dad was lowered into it. Kevio remained behind to ensure that the grave sealing was done like he’d like, and I gathered mom and Darla up, and headed to the house. As we passed the honour guard, they saluted as we drove by — a fitting final tribute.

There’s always a bunch of ATVs running around on The Mountain. As we drove away from Lusk, we saw that a dozen or more of them had stopped at the beginning of the trail, waiting until we were finished with dad’s service before they continued with their riding. Once again, Southern custom and good manners surfaced, but I have to admit that I was very surprised at this.

We arrived home to find that both churches on The Mountain laid out quite a spread — and quickly disappeared! There was enough food to feed two armies, and the fifteen or so of us that were here tried to polish it off, but it was too daunting a task…. there are massive leftovers.

We all talked of dad, and family, and had a nice quiet time telling tall tales — that’s what dad was best known for, and it was fitting that we all got a chance to experience that one more time.

Darla has made the house beautiful by arranging the flowers in vases throughout the house. Mom will get to enjoy them for many days. Darla is so very thoughtful, and has been a pillar of strength for me through this.

Tomorrow would have been dad’s 62nd birthday, and I’m sure it will be a tough day for everybody. I think Kevio and I are going to go visit dad. I think he would like that.