Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Songs

Another cold morning, with frozen water bottles but bright sunshine to make it seem warm, at least. Right now I'm only having to change the bottles once a day; things warm up enough through the day to keep them flowing and then they freeze at night. Forecast for cold nights and then some more icy weather later in the week. Winter is here! Last night at dusk I saw deer in the field near the woods; they darted away as I went out to get a better look.

A cousin on my mother's side lost her husband this week, and Mom and I attended the funeral. The drive through the country was beautiful; the icy tops of the trees along the Parkway sparkled in the sunshine and the Buffalo loomed dark above the crystal woods. Even on a sad mission, a trip through the hills of Floyd is always a joy.

A large Victorian house in town has been turned into a funeral home, with a simple chapel. We gathered as a pianist played quietly, and then a small choir sang old, old hymns. Four women and one man, singing without accompaniment in a style I remember hearing in old churches throughout my childhood. The harmony is hard to describe but instantly recognized; a Southern mountain twang that probably has roots as old as time. The words of the hymns, often heard and treasured for their comfort and strength, flowed with the rhythm that is almost a march, uniting a family with friends in a common sorrow and belief.

The minister carried on the rhythm in a voice accented with the style of Southern preachers and evangelists from times past. Love flowed on his words; love of God and love and understanding of the man that was mourned by family and friends. Phrases to honor and comfort, cherishing memory and lifting spirits.

The march of an honor guard in memory of service in World War II. A different rhythm, touching in the sincerity and solemnity of old men united in honoring a comrade that has gone on before.

And the rhythm of family voices, as we met for lunch afterward, talking of friends and family and gathering just to be together, in the comfort of united blood and experience. Women still beautiful in age and grace, eyes shining in pride over pictures of grandchildren and filled with concern at the infirmities of age and failing health in others. Gentle men, fitting the description of gentlemen in every way and manner. The bonds of family, a web of kinship spanning two counties and beyond, reaching back into time like the old song, with precious memories indeed.

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