Mourners huddled like penguins, praying more earnestly for a short service than the soul of the deceased.
The spring day had been forecast mild, but fate wouldn´t have it. Wind rattled the ancient, leafless locust trees, their branches rheumatically divided with sharp, twisted twigs that snagged at the hats and sweaters of those lucky enough to have brought them. Most, like B.J., were in short sleeves.
Her husband Brian´s ninety-year-old Aunt Genevieve had died after her heart finally gave out. Word had it that she´d exhausted her family in the final months, but then word had always been that she was a difficult person. B.J. had liked her the two times they´d met--the sharp, assessing eyes and kind smile. B.J. had quizzed Brian about her and formed her own opinion, that Aunt Gen had been tough and determined because she had to be.
A cousin rushed by to say hello, windblown hair whipped to one side of her head. "We´ve dreaded this day," she confided. "We´re worn out. Pastor Rob is reading the service, and he´s supposed to be brief. I hope he keeps his promise!"
The service was
brief. Rain began to spatter as the final prayer ended. People bolted for their cars, including B.J., while Brian lingered dutifully at the grave. As soon as the car door was closed, she vented a suppressed giggle that had threatened to ruin her during the service.
At sixty, she knew herself to be a difficult woman, too. Not purposely, but she´d become gradually aware over the years that she was something of a pain in the neck. It had surprised her at first--hurt her feelings, and she´d undergone a period of painful introspection that hadn´t given her an inkling about how to be anybody other than who she was.
"I want to have a service just like Aunt Gen´s when I die," she said, as Brian he slid into the driver´s seat.
He gave her a tolerant look.
"It was perfect--the cemetery--the weather. It´s like she got to have the last word again