My favorite picture of Mama
In the South, we honor and recognize the ritual of dying. We do it well. Mama died at age 93 of Alzheimer’s in November of 2008. My brother was the hero through all of this, managing her affairs at the facility in his home town. And we really did that funeral just right. Mama already had her footstone ready except for the death date. We had to wait six months on that since the stone cutter only comes every six months in a small Southern town.
Cremation is still not favored by many Greatest Generation Southerners like my mother. So we did Mama up right. She looked great in her teal long sleeved formal with her blue tinted grey hair. This hair color was popular with her set, one lady every having lavender. I decided the casket spray would be pink roses. My brother didn’t care as long as the bills were paid. Mama’s old friends turned out for the visitation as well as mine and my brother’s friends from our childhood. My brother chose the pall bearers, mostly the neighborhood boys who grew up knowing Mama.
Funerals homes in small southern towns are not necessarily digitally friendly. We were desperately trying to make an obituary deadline for the State paper but had to wait on an employee’s wife to come by with her laptop. The obituary made it but not the photograph. The funeral home owner simply explained to me, “Honey, I’m retiring in January. No need to learn something new now.”
My brother and I met with the minister to plan the service. I was bound and determined to speak at the event. The minister hesitated but then said, “Well, I suppose that some testimony is in order.” After all, anyone who survives being raised by a Southern mother has something to say and I had plenty of testimony. Of course I wore my black St John dress with pearls.
Before the service, as mama’s casket lay in state in front of the church, her only living sister arrived who had not seen Mama’s stately body. People were already arriving but I just asked the funeral director to re-open the casket for my aunt. OMG- “This isn’t done,” he said. “We will have to ask the minister.” I simply responded, “No need to ask. Tell him Anna wants it.” (Who is paying for this gig?”) I was told later by a friend of mama’s that tongues wagged as that casket was reopened. “Nobody does that,” was the observation.
While in town those days, I took care of having the proper thank you cards printed in script on ecru paper and envelopes. All thank you notes were sent.
The family of
Louise Hollis Traywick
sincerely thanks you for your
kind expression of sympathy.
When my mother developed Alzheimer’s it was like an early death. What I missed the most was that I could not call her anymore. We used to talk every day. I loved calling her about a recipe but being the Southern Cook she was, if I asked about an amount of an ingredient or how long to cook something, her response was, “Oh, just enough, ” or “til it’s done.” I am so glad I collected all her recipes and shared them with my girls, my brother, and his family
At my age, I think about my own funeral sometimes. I trust my girls to do it right. If I still look decent, the open casket is fine as long as I have my diamonds, pearls, and David Yurman watch and bracelet. Girls, bring my hairdresser over from Asheville. Pay her whatever she wants. Don’t forget to take the jewelry before they cremate me but don’t fight over it. And no, you won’t know who is getting what until I am gone. I’ll be buried in the Black Mountain Veteran’s Cemetery near Asheville next to my favorite Yankee Air Force veteran. After that, girls, take yourselves to the Grove Park Inn and have a good old time!