The word “widow” didn’t fit. It was obvious that Carole and Bob were only temporarily apart, not unlike when he’d been on the submarine in the Korean War. While she acknowledged she missed him terribly, she still referred to herself as “we.” At his memorial service, she was dressed like an angel, barefoot in a long white dress. The dances she did during the service – were they what is meant by the term “liturgical dance,” or were they something else entirely? – were joyful. She was completely connected with her God.
The music went on for quite some time; it was praise music played with electric guitars and drumming to back up the singing, not the hymns and piano accompaniment I’m used to. It felt like other concerts I’ve attended, and similarly, after a lttle while children were drawn to the front to join in the spinning. They got their own flags, purple and gold, to wave and twirl. A little girl with red hair in a denim jumper and pink crocs who looked like my daughter at the age of five danced and twirled in the aisle next to where her parents sat.
Carole became tired but wasn’t ready to stop, so she looked out into the congregation and found a friend who knew what to do. She approached the front of the church and supported Carole with a hand on either side of her waist as the dancing continued.
Two days later, Bob’s ashes were buried at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Salisbury. After brief sermon by the pastor, the family walked out to the grave sites to witness the burial. Two men in coveralls had brought shovels and rakes to the spot with a small tractor. They completed their task in silence as we watched. When they finished, Carole went to each man in turn and hugged him, thanking him for continuing the care of the love of her life with such dignity. They started up the tractor and drove away, and Bob and Carole’s daughters began to sing “Amazing Grace.”