When Ray and I got ready for the day Monday morning, we knew it would be a full day. Sweet Lura, the last Notgrass cousin from Ray’s daddy’s generation, had died last week at 91. Ray and I wanted to participate in all the family activities planned for the day.
We also wanted to make our way back to Cookeville for Brooke’s homeschool graduation. Our friendship with her precious family goes back more than twenty years–before Brooke was even born. Our Mary Evelyn was her long-time babysitter. We couldn’t miss it.
Our Monday schedule included:
7:30 a.m. – depart for Nashville
9:00 a.m. – arrive at airport to pick up rental van for North Carolina convention this coming weekend
10:30 a.m. – graveside service for Lura
1:30 p.m. – funeral visitation
3:00 p.m. – funeral
Following funeral – meal at the home of Lura’s daughter
7:00 p.m. – homeschool graduation
Drive to airport, 1 hour 30 minutes; Nashville to Cookeville, 1 hour 30 minutes–our schedule was tight, but we could make it!
Except for getting off the Interstate, missing the car rental area of the airport, accidentally getting back on the Interstate, going west to the next exit, and coming back to the airport, things went fairly smoothly until we got to the cemetery. Ray parked the rental van; I parked our car behind him. I closed the driver door of the car. We decided to get back into it to do one more thing. Off went to the alarm–HONK, HONK, HONK.
“Well, hello, long-lost cousins! Ray and Charlene are here!!” Boy, was my face red!
We chatted with Ray’s brother Alan, his wife Shirley, and with other members of the family until about 10:26, at which time, I started having a coughing fit. That has happened to me, oh, about four times in my entire life including the time it happened recently in our booth at a convention, unless, of course, I had a cold, which I most certainly did not. Fearing that I would make a scene by coughing through the service, I headed to the car for some Thayer’s slippery elm lozenges, because, I had, of course, left my purse in the car.
I traipsed all the way to the car, which was, of course, several feet away and in plain view of the gathered family. The Thayer’s worked right away. By the time I traipsed all the way back and slipped in unnoticed (so much for not making a scene), the five-minute ceremony was more than half over.
We made plans to join Alan and Shirley and others for lunch, said our “see you at 1:30” good-byes to others, and asked a funeral director if we could leave our van at the funeral home across the street.
Ray parked the van; I parked the car. I got in the passenger’s seat of the car; Ray got in the driver’s seat. He turned the ignition: “Sput . . sput . . .,” but then it started! Since it sounded so funny, Ray turned it off and tried it again: “Sput . . .”
Ray went inside the funeral home to inquire about a good car repair place. He called a towing company. He called his brother to say, “No, we won’t be meeting you for lunch after all.” Alan’s phone was, of course, on mute, so they waited and waited for us. Finally, Alan decided to call to see what was the matter. That’s when he found Ray’s message. “Sorry, ya’ll!”
Meanwhile, back at the funeral home, Ray and I waited and waited. Two hours after the graveside service commenced, the tow truck arrived. It towed our car about three minutes away to a car repair shop. Just as we suspected, it was the alternator. When they go, they go, and they give no warning–unless, of course, the car was trying to tell us something with that horn!
We made all our other appointments on Monday, visited at Lura’s daughter’s house for about 30 minutes, picked up our car (good as new), got stuck in traffic because of an accident, stopped for gas, and made it to graduation between 7:10 and 7:15, missing only the salutatorian’s address.
Brooke was beautiful in her royal blue cap and gown. Her smile beamed as always. She defines sweetness, grace, and a gentle spirit. I tried to think of a highlight of her graduation party, but there were too many.
You just never know, of course, but God does and we are all in His hands.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.