I went to my Aunt Dixie's funeral today in Wheeler. My cousin, Darrell, called Andy and asked him to sing about 3 songs. On one of the songs, Andy asked me to accompany him on the piano. (He had tracks for the other 2.) I don't know why, but at the last few minutes before I played, I started getting nervous. I think it was mainly because I've never played for a funeral for any of my family---I'm not even sure they knew I played the piano.
Before the funeral began, 2 of my aunts and uncles from the other side of the family walked into the packed auditorium. It was standing room only. I was seated at the piano and had a perfect view of what was going on at the back of the church. One of my uncles walked down the aisle until he found a place where they could all sit. He looked back at my aunts and other uncle and wildly motioned for them to come. They all stood completely still--statuesque, even. I began chuckling to myself. Then this uncle held up 2 fingers and motioned just as wildly again as if to say, "There's room for 2 more!" His wife looked at her sister with a look of, "I don't know that man!" My other uncle finally went down and joined him and they sat together. By this time, I wanted to guffaw! Two minutes passed and one aunt (not the wife) went and joined the guys. My embarrassed and stubborn aunt (the wife) finally went about 3 rows behind the others and climbed over 3 people to find her own seat---away from her husband. Tears were running out of my eyes from having to contain myself at this funeral!!!
This whole scene loosened me up a bit before I had to play the piano. As I began the intro of Amazing Grace, I had the distinct feeling that my dad, his brothers, my grandparents and my Aunt Dixie were all sitting in heaven accompanying me on that song---as if they had musical instruments and were playing along just to help me out. (None of them played instruments on earth) It was a surreal experience! I played the song with only a few glaring mistakes and sat down. The preacher read the obituary and then Andy sang Beulah Land. I jokingly asked the heavenly family--who loved to hear Andy sing here on earth--if they were going to accompany him. This all took place in my mind, of course. I could have sworn I heard them all say, "No. We're all just going to sit here and listen and enjoy!" Talk about a rebuff---they had to help me out, but wanted to sit and listen to Andy. Sounds just like their sense of humor!! I can still hear them laughing...(Don't try to figure out my mind. If this didn't really happen, what does this say about me that I can think these things about myself?!)
At the graveside, I looked around at all of my siblings and cousins---so many of them came to the funeral. And I was so proud of our family. We have a great family that pulls together and really loves one another. My dad and his siblings had a wonderful sense of humor and I think that was a great bond for our family. And my thought was this, "THIS is what heaven is going to be like--a place where our hearts are going to be bound together in love forever."