So I'm sitting here using an IBM laptop (with this huge button on the keyboard labeled “Access IBM”—I'm afraid to push it) in the back seat of a Prius, currently doing
100 Mph the legal speed limit along the Florida Turnpike as we speed wend our way to Blounts Town. My friend Joe's father died, and Gregory, Kurt, Bunny and I are on our way to the funeral.
It was horrible this morning, having to get up at the time I usually go to sleep. Bleh. But we're making good time and we should be arriving in the area late this afternoon.
“Do you need fuel?”
“Fuel? Fuel? I won't need fuel until Thursday!”
“Today is Thursday.”
“Do you have the keys?”
“It is impossible, physically impossible, to lock the keys in the car.”
“Can we not test that theory?”
There was a defibrillator right there at the service counter of the Burger King at the Florida Turnpike rest stop. Somehow, it seems very appropriate.
The viewing started at 6:00 pm. We arrived at the funeral home (in Marianna, Florida) at 5:45 pm and as we're being lead back to the viewing room, the funeral director asked if we were family. Gregory said that we were friends of the family and had driven up from Ft. Lauderdale. The director then regretfully told us that only family was allowed in at this time and that the viewing didn't start for another hour.
Shocked, I looked at my cell phone, and sure enough, it read 4:45 pm. We were not only an hour early, but in the Central Time Zone. [The zone runs down the middle of the Apalachicola River and apparently, we all missed the memo when crossing over it.]. We killed a little over an hour then headed back to the viewing.
I had only met Joe Sr. once or twice for very brief moments of time, but from listening in to many of the conversations I got a feel for the man. His death wasn't unexpected, as it came at the end of several years of fighting cancer, and the atmosphere there was more relief over his suffering being over than the sadness of a sudden, inexplicable death. There was no wailing and gnashing of teeth over his death, but a huge gathering of friends and family offering fond memories of Joe Sr.
Left to right: Kyle (Joe's son), Kelly (Joe's wife), Keener (Joe's first name—I've known him as Joe as long as I've known him) and just some guy, sitting in front of the fire.
Left to right: Kurt, Gregory sitting before the fire on the back porch.
Joe extended us an invitation to the family farm (in Cottondale, a few miles west of Marianna) for food (which was excellent—I've never had fresh roast beef, and by “fresh” I mean “it was butchered yesterday”) and conversation (again excellent, and mostly around a fire on the back porch).