The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950, Part 3 of 4

dale-bobby-gerry-joy

Most of what took place during the funeral will forever remain absent from Bobby’s memory except for two final scenes that are filled with emotional pain and flashes of faded images. Those scenes occurred during the final viewing of his father’s corpse. It all happened in a simple wooden Church next to the Ebenezer grave yard. Whether regular church services occurred there at the time, or whether it opened its doors only for funerals, Bobby never knew for sure.  He formed the impression a bit later in his life that it only opened its doors for funerals. Many year ago the little wooden church was torn down & never replaced. Its absence was another loss for Bobby as the existence of the Church supported his memory of what happened on that day & stood as a memorial to mark a tragic event in his life.

Scene 5  The minister concludes his eulogy with a few comforting words for family & friends, and the congregation of mourners stand up and pass by Dale’s open casket for the final viewing. Bobby, unmoved by the funeral service thus far, suddenly awakens to the emptiness & pain of losing his father and begins to cry copiously. He hasn’t felt this way since his mother came through the doorway of their home several days ago and abruptly announced his father’s death. He turns to his mother sitting next to him, rises upon his knees in the pew, & wraps his arms tightly around her neck. In between sobs he implores his mother to be there for him:  “Mom, don’t ever go away.  Please, don’t ever leave me. Promise me that you’ll never leave me.” He repeats these same lines again several times in a dramatic show of grief. It’s like he woke up all of a sudden and realized the gravity of what was happening to him: My dad is gone for good and not coming back.  This is final & finished!

His mother, with tears running down her cheeks & dealing with her own grief, promises her son tenderly & lovingly that she will never leave him. With all the strength she has left she whispers into his ear with a firm but emotional voice, “I’ll never leave you Bobby; don’t worry, I’ll never leave you.” Those words comfort her son. Bobby remains sitting in the pew as his mom visits his dad for the last time just before the casket lid is closed for eternity.

Scene 6  From the pew Bobby hears a mournful cry of psychic pain as trembling words issue forth in deep despair, praying for the impossible to come to pass. He looks up and sees his mother in great distress, appearing to him as if she may crawl into the casket with his father. The beautiful wife, very close & looking directly into her husband’s face, pleads with him one last time, hoping for a miracle: “Dale! Dale! Please don’t leave me, please don’t go. I can’t go on without you! Dale, I beg you, don’t leave me now! What will I do without you?”

Bobby remains confused about his mother’s continuing efforts in exhorting her dead husband to defy death & return to her. Or is she till tying to join his dad in the casket? Despite his thoughts he is not frightened that she might actually go with him, for there isn’t enough room for her in the casket to do so. After a fairly short amount of time, several members of the family approach Gerry and gently pull her away from the casket and escort her toward the church door. Bobby watches his bereaved mother exit the church. Her gait is unsteady and her cries are unremitting as she disappears from his sight and crosses the road. It is a short distance from the church to the burial site. For Bobby, the remainder of the funeral service that is to be held at the grave site is forever hidden from him and remains locked up in the vault of forgotten memories.

After that day life continued without his dad’s presence. Here today and gone tomorrow took on a new meaning as he continued to grow. (To Be Continued)

A song for the occasion:  Tragedy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OZxrh3zBTo sung by the Brenda Lee-1961.

warfarin’ Stranger:  garland dale

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