By David Broyles
August 8, 2013
Please accept my apologies If I’ve been a bit distracted this week readers. I’ve hit a time in life when I wear my good suits to funerals more often than weddings. My family was hit hard this week by the death of Bobby Harold.
He was one of those all too few who begins with a little and accomplishes much. My wife’s beloved Uncle Bobby was even more precious in this world by being the type of successful person who reaches the top and then is driven to share making life better for many.
The tribute of attendance in the line was something to behold. Seizing on my position in the community as a reporter, (one who is expected to really answer what do you know with facts) the family asked me how many were standing in line. I told them they were standing all the way back to Dobson. Those big, shiny tractor-trailers leading the funeral procession the next day was a grand thing indeed.
The Bunke Family Ministries Rally preceded these events which was divine assistance for me. Paul Bunke’s words kept coming back to me. It is haunting when you truly realize everyone suffers.
“If you know where something is, you have not lost it,” said Bunke as he and his family proceeded to once again turn a tragedy into a celebration. It must be peculiar to the worldly that the faithful rejoice that a loved one is beyond suffering but still feel the loss.
Not surprisingly, Surry County and the surrounding area unflinchingly stepped forward to offer comfort and support in any way it could. Standing in the visitation line’s second row between handshakes and conversation I was able to watch any number of a thousand ways people deal with loss while trying to help another deal with death. It’s something our society doesn’t teach us about so we are all pretty much left to our own devices to figure it out.
I remembered when I was young and active in church how I practiced comforting stories and make eye contact or turn a phrase for a chuckle. Since then, I have lost a lot of insulation between me and death. I saw a birthday card once which depicted a man seeing the grim reaper sitting in his back car seat in the rear view mirror. The caption said, “Objects are closer than they appear.”
At the writing of this column, I have found out my Aunt Alice Mann has died. I will make the journey back into the dark mountains tonight. I’ll think about how loving and rich a soul she was. Not afraid to be cultured and funny and as feisty as any little woman from the mountains I’ve ever met. Perhaps the best comfort talk I ever heard came from my cousin, John Porterfield, who is the Mark Twain of our family. He saw friends of my grandfather Phillip Meredith sitting, dejected before his funeral. John strode over to them. His gaze confident, steady.
“Boys. Right now Phil’s good turkey hunting buddies (he named a half dozen) have met him and asked what he’d like to hunt and said we can go do that right now,” said John. “And then they pointed out his old fishing buddies (he had about four) and asked him what he wanted to fish for at which favorite spot and they could do that right now if he didn’t feel like hunting. No hurry. There was plenty of time to do both. And they are all so glad to see him and just wanted to talk.” They all got up and went in to the chapel.
David Broyles is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.