I just got back from a funeral. My cousin Janet passed away from breast cancer. My memories of her always make me smile as I think of her smile and her laugh .
Aunt Audine (Audie) was my mother’s younger sister. Audie’s daughters were more like sisters than cousins to us. The birth order for us was Larry, Diane, Steve, Brenda, Janet. Auddie had remarried sometime before this picture was made and so her last name changed. One Sunday, Janet went to Sunday school with us and when asked her name, she proudly said her name was “Janet Lynn Moody Moore Elkins.” She got a little confused, but she knew she was part of our family as well.
The funeral was in Stephenville, Texas. I was born in Stephenville, but I don’t remember anything about it since we moved to California when I was three months old. So with that in mind, I was interested in actually seeing where I was born.
First, I noticed it was much smaller than imagined it would have been. It is the county seat of Erath County, with a community college, but a population of about 17,000 fellow Texans.
Secondly, I noticed the terrain was not exceptionally beautiful. There were some hills and pasture land that had a lot of mesquite trees and natural grasses. But I always felt at home there. A light breeze would cool you from the hot sun and remind you it was going to be hard working the land, but there were rewards as well.
On the way down, my GPS did not point out the exit I wanted to take off of I -35W to 820 and the next thing I know Terrie and I are in a forest of concrete columns to support new highway overpasses under construction. The traffic is heavy and I can’t take time to look at all of the malls and shopping centers Terrie would like me to see on the left and on the right side of the car. The frequent traveler along that route did not look too kindly to the gray bearded driver with his eyebrows pointing to the roof of the car wondering “How did I get into this?”
But then I remembered a road numbered 377. It was to lead us to Stephenville. It would lead me back to my beginnings. And then I saw the highway sign and followed it. I don’t recall being on that highway before, but the gray colored asphalt and the rough texture that caused my tires to make noises made me think about how many miles of roads that I had seen just like that.
We went through Grandbury noticing how beautiful the lake was and I thought, Janet used to teach children with special need at their school. How very much like Janet. I would have fit her well. We then went through Tolar and I said this was where Janet lived. It was a small town, similar in size to where my Grandma and other relatives lived.
When we got to Stephenville and we saw the original town square. I stopped and used my GPS to locate our motel for the night. As we were driving, I was thinking I would sure like a ribeye steak for dinner. McNuggets for lunch just wasn’t working any longer. So when we got to the room, Terrie asked if I could just bring us something to eat in the room, so that’s what we did. We were both tired and went to sleep very early.
The next morning, the funeral was to begin at 10:00. It was already sunny and warm with the temperature predicted to be in the nineties. We entered the chapel and first noticed the pallbearers were all dressed in jeans, boots, and crisp white western shirts. I thought it was cool and reflected on the community standards; just people being real and showing respect and love.
We seated ourselves and I noticed the room was in an L shaped configuration. A portion of the room was reserved for the family to be seated, out of view of the others. I thought this is parallel to how I relate to my family. I’m in the room, but I’m not with my family. It’s not their fault. I hadn’t seen Janet in a few years and it was only after I got on Facebook that we would communicate with one another.
I learned today that Janet loved her family; her husband, her children, and her grandchildren. She would always close our conversation with “Love you Cuz”. And I knew that while we had been separated for many years, she still loved her extended family, even a cousin like me.
So as I looked at the beginning, I realized there are some adjustments I can make that will help me feel secure in the family, regardless of where I sit in the room.
Help me Lord to be a good family member. Give us new photos to cherish. Amen.