I have no memory of the funeral. I imagine flowers, a very plain casket, and children running everywhere, intuitively doing their best to lightennthe mood. My grandfather was a preacher; actually, both of my grandfathers were preachers. I bet the bishop flew into town to attend his funeral.
My grandfather’s death was the first in a long procession of deaths that soon invaded our church like an invisible plague. The next to go was Nap Sneed. Nap was the first black man I ever met. He and his wife had faithfully attended the church for years, she passed away in 2012 at the age of ninety eight, having outlived her husband by several decades.
Her name was Willa. She smelled like baby powder. Her house was full of gold records as her son was the drummer for Three Dog Night. Hers was a home than obviously breathed music. Sometimes in church, when the congregation had finished singing a hymn she particularly liked, she would continue on, leading us to do the same by singing the chorus again in her thin, mercurial voice. It was a haunting voice: a beautiful voice. She was one of my favorites. I liked to touch her hair.
I was a dyed-in-the-wool believer from birth. Singing was my favourite thing to do. I would mimic the exaggerated expressions of our preacher as I stood on a piano stool and sang “Praise the Nord”. My childhood was filled with song; I sang and I listened to a lot of music.
I remember well the tiny little record player I got for my fifth birthday. A hand-me-down from my second oldest cousin who never used it. I instantly fell in love with the ritual of dropping the needle on wax. I would hide away in my small bedroom closet with the record player and listen to records over and over. I wore the thing out and the records too.