My wife's Aunt Margie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August, 2007. The doctor told her he'd suggest chemotherapy, but he warned the average survival after this diagnosis was in the three to six month range. Margie put up a heroic fight, finally dying on April 11, 2009, some twenty months after her diagnosis. Her funeral was held yesterday. I was one of her pallbearers. Today I wrote this poem:
April 14, 2009
Get out my dark blue suit
and extra-long tie.
I hate dressing up and therefore
do it so seldom, but
today it’s warranted.
Drive to the biggest Baptist
church in Ruston.
Wow, this sanctuary is huge,
with video screens and an
enormous pipe organ – a
truly fancy town church.
The casket sits at the front
surrounded by spray after spray
of gorgeous flower arrangements.
I breathe in the smell of roses.
The casket is covered with a
blanket of red roses, with more
red roses standing at each end.
She did love red roses.
Family and friends fill the room,
a sea of sad faces and wet eyes.
Three hymns and two preachers
later, those assembled now file
by the open casket to pay respect,
followed by her family members.
Many of the women break down
into crying, as the men fight
hard to maintain their composure.
Husband Travis stops and sobs.
Travis now ready, we pallbearers
carry the casket out the front door
to the hearse, waiting with back
standing open to swallow the casket.
A procession many, many cars long
snakes its way slowly along back
country roads, finally arriving at
St. Rest Church’s Cemetery
on White Lightning Road. Her
and Travis’s small country church
sits watching from across the road.
We carry the blue casket up the rise
to the tent-covered, prepared gravesite.
Only the presence of graves with their
monuments distinguishes this country
cemetery from adjacent cow pastures.
Family sit; friends stand; the two
preachers say some final words.
Services done, we pallbearers file past,
laying our rose boutonnieres atop the
casket and comforting poor Travis.
The mourners all walk across the road
to the church, where the good ladies
of the congregation have laid out
tables of ample country-style eats
to feed the entire assemblage.
After second helpings of fried chicken,
deviled eggs, creamed corn, baked beans,
assorted dips, fruit salads, and three
desserts, I drive home to Shreveport
with a heavy heart.
Goodbye, Aunt Margie. You were
well-respected and loved by all who
had the pleasure to know you.
I am glad I was among those so fortunate.
You were a great country lady.
Margie Lea Doss Hood
March 10, 1933 – April 11, 2009