Friday, February 29, 2008

Stopping for a Funeral Procession

I, along with a dozen or so others at first, was driving home when I reached the light at my main east-west road. I had some mail to put in the box. But it had slid off my passenger seat into that space between the seat and the door. I was wondering if I had time to unstrap my seat belt and scoot over to that side and try to retrieve it.

I had not decided yet when I was startled by the sound of a police siren. I turned my face toward the front in time to see a motorcycle cop stopping in front of our light and blocking traffic. Behind him, to the west, was a funeral procession with maybe 40 or 50 cars.

I knew I had time to get my mail so I unstrapped and leaned over the seat. I had to feel around on the floor to find the envelopes but it just took a few seconds. I grabbed the bunch and straightened up in time to see the first hearse pass.

Everyone was stopped. There were two straight lanes and a turn lane on the street I was on and by this time there was a pretty good column of cars in each lane on both sides of the cross street. On it all the opposing cars to the funeral procession had pulled over and stopped. Slowly the procession proceeded.

They were going to the cemetery just a few blocks to the east. I know it well. Judy's dad and grandparents are there as well as many other friends' family members. It is an old cemetery by our Oklahoma standards at least. It is possible to identify where the first burials occurred. That's such a small area compared to the current size of the cemetery. Over on the east road there is the grave of a boy I knew when I was a boy. He died way back then. That was a lot of hurt.

When I lived in Kansas City and then in the Dallas area, I did not see cars stop for funeral processions as frequently as I do here. The traffic was just too heavy. It was dangerous to pull over.

I wondered then how long it would be before we, my neighbors and I, had to stop pulling over.

We pull over and stop I think because we want to show respect for the person who died for one thing. But maybe more than that we want to let the family and friends who are in the procession know that we are sad for their loss. Many of us have already been in processions ourselves and nearly all of us are aware it is just a matter of time and we will be in another one.

We don't think too much about it but we know our time to be the one in the hearse is coming, too.

My thoughts drifted to the people in the cars. I really could not see any clearly. I imagined there was probably a spouse and maybe some children or grandchildren. Maybe there was a brother and a sister and some nieces and nephews. There were probably neighbors and friends and coworkers and people from church and clubs. I thought a few nanoseconds about how each one must be feeling or not feeling in some cases.

I wondered if the person who died was a man or a woman and how old he or she was and what killed herm. I wondered if it was Alzheimer's or if the spouse that remained might have that disease. And I wondered if there was a child that would be helping them and caring for him. Or maybe it was a young husband and he left a young family.

Then the procession was past and the light changed and I turned left. In the mirror I could see the end of the procession still retreating.

I thought my life was like this. I still could see the last part in the mirror retreating.


~Betsy said...

Folks stop for funeral processions around here, too. Each time I see one, my mind races with the same questions you raise. Many times I will bow my head and say a quiet prayer for the family.

Interesting analogy for your life - the last part in the mirror retreating. Thanks for sharing.

Lori1955 said...

Funeral processions sadden me. I always think that the longer the procession,the younger the person must have been who passed on. I guess that's because my dad's was so long and he was only 55. I don't even like thinking about them let alone seeing one go by.

dave said...

We still stop around here too.
I too wonder when i see a funeral procession, or a grave side service when i drive by. There is a story there I always think. I wish I knew that story.
On a lighter side, I rode along in the limo way too many times in my life. It is the only time you get to go through stop lights and stop signs.

~♥Chris♥~ said...

No one stops around here. Very disrespectful. I try to send a prayer up when I see one.

I did a lot of thinking like you Terry, at the memorial service for my dad. Reasons, circumstances, the how's and why's.

Things like funerals and processions make me think about my own mortality.

rainbowheart said...

We too stop for funeral processions where I live. As I sit there I wonder like you do, "the whys, the whats, the hows, the whos" of this person's life. I live in a small community so when someone passes away, we usually know the person that has passed or someone that is related to the deceased.

cornbread hell said...

i can't imagine not stopping. i don't believe i've ever seen that happen.