Monday, November 19, 2007

Aunt Merle, Mother's Day and Kids and Caskets.

My great aunt Merle passed away last Thursday. Her funeral was on Sunday in Jasper. Aunt Merle was my grandmother's sister as well as her best friend. She was always good to me and I had a fondness for her. She was the aunt that would give me little story books and cards, most of which I still have. She always had this radiant smile and boy! Just as my grandmother, Irene, had a wonderful sense of humor and quick wit. She was good at sarcasm. It has been several years since I had last seen Aunt Merle and even more since I had seen other members of the family. Some I hardly recognized, while others had not aged at all. Funny how life is like that. The Brown family used to spend every Mother's Day together. It was the Brown reunion on that day. You knew to show up. There was always some of the best food there. All my aunts and their children knew how to cook, and I mean cook good. My aunt Merle hosted the reunions at her home, as tradition. I think she took great pride in seeing everyone together enjoying good food. The reunion came to end shortly after the death of my grandmother 8 years ago. I think other people in the family had some health issues and it just had become a difficult undertaking. It had been that long since I had seen almost everyuone there, some I had never at all (marriages, new babies). Almost a decade!
Everyone was in wonderful spirits yesterday. It was a reunion of sorts. While it is hard to loose those you love, it is a peaceful time when age and success are factored into the equation. I don't mean success as a monetary meaning but by how one lived. For this reason, the funeral was indeed a celebration of the long and fruitful life that she lived.
There was a funny moment. My two youngest children, Sister Sledge and J Smooth did not ever remember attending a funeral. Of course they had, but their age at the time prevented them from remembering. My brother's two girls were also there ("Red", age 4 and "Reesy Cup" age 3) and they had never been to a funeral. They were both hanging out with my children and myself while my brother and his wife visited with other family. I went ahead with all of the children and got into the receiving line, where my aunt's children and their families were greeting people to the right of the casket. It was a long line, obviously in 95 years my aunt touched many lives. Finally we made it to the front, where I was issuing out hugs and well wishes when I heard the loud voice of a child..."Sister Sledge! What is that 'thang'? What's that doing? Well, what's she doin' in there? Where are the legs? Hey! J Smooth, come here and look at this!! Hey Aunt Leigh , look! What's it doing?" My niece Red had taken notice of the casket and my aunt Merle at peace inside. When I looked, all four children were standing at the side of the casket peering in. Certainly a Kodak moment! How I wished I could've shot that on picture! All children's hands were clinging to the side, as they pulled up to get a better look at what was inside. It was as though it were a circus sideshow. You know the ones where you paid a nickle to get a view of an oddity behind the curtain. I tried to quiet down the children, although Red 's curiosity could not allow the questioning to halt. I walked over and told them to be respectful and talk in a quieted tone. I then went on to answer a bombardment of questions...
"Yes, she is sleeping. No she will not get up. Yes, she can probably hear us. That is her body, her spirit is with God in Heaven. Yes, she probably is looking down on us. No, she is not sad. Yes, she does look happy, Her feet are behind the curtained area. Yes, she does have feet and legs. Yes she has moved in with Mrs. Shaffer. ( Mrs. Shaffer was my mother's neighbor that recently passed) She is dead. She has passed on to be with God." I then took their hands and we began to walk away to find our seats, feeling eyes on my back. When all of a sudden Red yelled as she ran with gusto back to the casket, "Hey Sledge! Let's go look at it again!". The innocence of children.
The service concluded with a song of Amazing Grace. From there we went to my Dad's cousins farm house and had some of the best desserts I will ever eat. All homemade, no doubt. I couldn't help but look around noticing once again the family that I had not seen in so long. We all had the connection though, because of my aunt Merle and her siblings. She brought us together once again in her death. I am certain that she was smiling down on that fact...and the fact that the food was good. "Happy Mother's Day" for the lifetime of joy your brought so many, Aunt Merle. Rest Peacefully.

DONALDSON, MERLE B., 95, of Jasper, died Thursday, November 15, 2007. Funeral services will be held at Kilgore-Green Funeral Home at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 18, 2007. Visitation will be from noon until 2:00 p.m. on Sunday at the funeral home. Tex Ergle, Bill Wright and Delmus Anthony will officiate. Burial will be in New Prospect Cemetery. Kilgore-Green Funeral Home will direct. Mrs. Donaldson was born July 2, 1912 in Jasper, AL. A 1928 graduate of Walker County High School, she graduated from the University of Montevallo in 1932. Mrs. Donaldson commenced teaching at Curry High School and retired from the Jefferson County School System. She was a member of First United Methodist Church in Jasper. She served in leadership positions in various clubs and organizations. She was preceded in death by her husband, Marvin H. Donaldson; father, L.H. Brown; mother, Jessie Sherer Brown; brothers, Howard Brown and John Neil Brown; sisters Blanche Beasley, Irene Rutledge and Rose Sullivan. She is survived by her son Jeff Donaldson and his wife Brenda; daughter Jane Crump; grandchildren Randy Crump and his wife Barlane, Scott Crump and his wife Lisa, Emily Donaldson, Anna Donaldson, and David Donaldson. Great Grandchildren Ran Crump, Annie Jane Crump, Abbey Crump and Ila Cate Crump. Brothers Sherwood "Woody" Brown and his wife Reba, and Bob Brown and his wife Jane and Sister Hallie Norris and her husband T.D. all of Jasper. She is also survived by many other relatives and a host of friends. The family requests memorials be given to The White Christmas Fund of the First United Methodist Church of Jasper for the Methodist Children's Home or the Gideons International at P.O. Box 3653, Jasper, AL for the purchase of Bibles or a church or charity of choice.

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