restricted access 29 Funeral

From: In a Pickle

University of Wisconsin Press colophon
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217 The first cars began arriving at the Link Lake Methodist Church by ten o’clock, a full hour before Jake’s funeral was to begin. Marshal Justin Quick, wearing a freshly pressed white shirt and his ever-present cowboy hat, was on hand to help with the parking. He was standing in the street and pointing toward the big field back of the church where cars were lining up. The marshal “howdied” each driver, and welcomed those people he didn’t recognize to Link Lake. He followed the “Howdy” with a “Nice day, wouldn’t you say?” He repeated the litany over and over, as each car arrived. A rainstorm had come through the area on Thursday and took with it the haze and humidity of summer. Friday had dawned cool and bright. It was a good day for a funeral. It was a good day for just about anything. The Methodist church was soon filled to capacity with people standing in the back and lined up on the steps, hoping to catch a phrase or two of the minister’s message. The organ music and the singing of “Nearer My God to Thee” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” rolled through the little sanctuary and out the front door to the people standing on the steps. 29 Funeral Soon the service was over, and the people on the steps stood back as the wooden casket and its six pallbearers slowly moved toward the open doors of the hearse. Amy walked with the pastor and Mary Meyer directly behind the casket. Two dozen red roses were lying on the casket, with the words, “From your loving daughter, Amy.” Amy was crying softly as she slowly moved down the steep church steps. Everyone stood quietly as the pallbearers shoved the casket into the back of the hearse and quietly latched the vehicle’s door. Meanwhile, Marshal Quick had been organizing the funeral procession that would drive down Link Lake’s Main Street, and then out of town to Link Lake Cemetery. The marshal later said that the procession was the largest he had ever been in charge of, with more than forty cars. Someone else thought there were only twenty-five, which still made it the longest funeral procession Link Lake folks had ever known. The cars, all with their lights on, moved slowly out of town: Marshal Quick’s squad car first, with the red light flashing, then the hearse, followed by the mortuary’s big black Oldsmobile. Amy, Mary, and the pastor rode in the Oldsmobile, followed by pallbearers in another car. The procession was slowed down when it came upon a farmer with a big load of second-crop hay. The farmer’s wagon was pulled by a team of workhorses. He was going right down the middle of the narrow road. The farmer was obviously more interested in saving his hay than attending Jake’s funeral. (Jake hadn’t used horses for ten years.) There was no way for the farmer to pull over to the side of the road without tipping his load of hay, so he continued on, even though he could see cars backed up to the top 218 Funeral 219 Funeral of the hill leading into Link Lake. The marshal didn’t know whether he should turn on his siren and risk scaring the horses and causing a runaway or just follow along behind, hoping the farmer would turn off into a nearby farmyard. Of course some of the people toward the end of the procession, especially those from out of town, didn’t know about the load of hay and were becoming a bit impatient. Finally, the hearse pulled into the cemetery, followed by the entire procession. The marshal, usually quite thorough about these matters, hadn’t planned how to handle the parking at the cemetery. Cars were parked here and there and everywhere and along both sides of the county road. Soon the crowd, more than a hundred mourners, gathered around the gravesite. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the minister intoned as the casket was slowly lowered into the grave. People began returning to their cars, trying to follow Marshal Quick’s muddled instructions about how to exit the cemetery. Amy and Andy remained at the gravesite, their heads bowed. They didn’t see the man in a black suit standing in the shade of an old burr oak tree near the road. The man came out...


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