(Continued from yesterday.)
Dad drove to the funeral home with Mom and I. We didn’t say much. I just looked out the window and Mom and Dad talked about having some beef slaughtered and packaged.
Dad pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home.
“We must really be early,” Mom said.
Dad looked at his watch. “The funeral starts is 20 minutes. It looks like everyone whose going to be here is already here.”
“It looks like the employees of the funeral home and that’s it,” Mom said.
“I never thought for a moment I’d pack the place out,” Dad said.
We walked into a small room. Bowden’s coffin was in a corner. There were perhaps a half dozen flower arrangements and that was it. A lectern was to the left of the coffin. Only one person was there. It was Bowden’s widow. She sat in the front row. She wore black and dabbed her eyes.
“Mrs. Bowden,” Dad said.
She looked up through her red puffy eyes.
“I’m Martin Tennyson. This is my wife Laura and my son Quinn.”
“Thanks so much,” she said. “Ellie thought so much of you. He talked about your family quite often. He used to say if he had it to do all over again he’d like to be a farmer.”
“He’d have been a good one,” Dad said.
“That’s how I met Ellie,” Mrs. Bowden said. “4H years ago. I never wanted the ministry. I suppose he told you all about that.”
“In his own way,” Dad said. “I think I’m going up to the casket for a moment if you don’t mind, Mrs. Bowden.” Dad nodded at Mom and me. “Perhaps you, Laura, and
Quinn can get to know each other.”
Dad stood at the coffin with his head bowed. A tear fell from his eye. He mumbled a prayer to himself and stared at the wall behind the coffin. I never saw Dad look like that before. He was so peaceful he appeared angelic.
The funeral director approached him and whispered into his ear. Dad glanced at his watch.
Dad turned to Mom and I. “Why not sit on each side of Mrs. Bowden we are going to begin in a moment.”
“Mrs. Bowden,” Dad said. “Is there anything special you want me to mention?”
Mrs. Bowden turned to see the room empty. She looked at Dad. “I thought you might say he deeply cared for the parishioners and often paced the floor worrying about their problems, but it seems like there is no one here to hear that. Did you know that Mr. Tennyson?”
“No,” Dad said.
“You probably thought he was a stuffy, arrogant, windbag,” Mrs. Bowden said.
Dad smiled. “Yes, I did.”
“That’s okay,” Mrs. Bowden said. “I called him that a time or two, but that was not the real Ellsworth. He was kind, and funny, and really down to earth. He put on so much.”
“I guess those are things I didn’t know,” Mrs. Bowden said.
“You are quite remarkable, Mr. Tennyson,” Mrs. Bowden said.
Dad smiled. “How’s that?”
“In spite of how he treated you, you are still willing to speak at his funeral,” Mrs. Bowden said. “He said that’s the kind of man you were.”
From the back of the room the funeral director cleared his throat. Dad looked at his watch again. “It’s time to start,” Dad said.
Dad stood behind the pulpit. He scratched next to his nose, a habit when Dad was nervous. He cleared his throat and smiled at Mrs. Bowden.