Weddings and funerals. Weddings and funerals were all that kept the family together these days. And here they all were again, gathered around another hole in the ground. All except Cousin Billy, of course, who was with them in body but no longer in spirit.
Chalmers, Mac’s oldest boy — must be forty-odd now — stood next to the vicar as the clergyman droned his way through the committal. Beside him, dressed in a little black dress that was, perhaps, a shade too short for a funeral in Arkansas, was Minnie, his wife. Or what passed for a wife in these sinful days.
Along the edge of the grave stand Cousin Billy’s people, the West Virginia connection; half-a-dozen similarly featured men and women from that place where the shape of a family tree is often a straight line. Odd bunch, sang a lot in church, but seemed kind of awkward in the presence of those with the correct number of chromosomes.
And then there’s Mary, in her Versace frock and Italian shoes. Big-shot city lawyer up in DC. Haven’t seen her since Frank’s wedding. Read about her though. Laughed about her. She look’s like she’s calculating just how much money she’s losing each minute she spends with us here.
Finally, between Mary and me is Mac. An old man now, slowly watching his family disintegrate. As Chalmers throws a handful of dirt on the coffin, Mac leans into my shoulder and whispers: “I ain’t coming to the next one. Not even if it’s mine.”