Aunt Ruth was the meanest, craziest and most beautiful of all my mother's sisters. That’s saying something. They all were, mostly beautiful and mean, I mean. She was also the last to die at 98. The graveside service last month was attended by eight people including the pastor and two men from the funeral home named for our distant relatives. Aside from low attendance it was marred only by fire ants and my persistent thought that the grave wasn’t very deep.
The absence of pallbearers necessitated a brief up-slope struggle from the hearse with the heavy coffin involving all the men in attendance and the backhoe operator. My newly met cousin was out of breath. He wore a short brimmed grey felt cowboy hat and, except for the hand-tooled leather smartphone case, looked and sounded like Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
When the pastor asked us for remarks and remembrances this cousin, still huffing and puffing, said he thought it was sad a woman who’d lived there all her life didn’t have enough people to carry her to her grave. He was a little emotional at this point and the rest of us were studying the texture of the fake grass. I wasn't alone in thinking I knew why no one was there. She was unpleasant, to be generous. And she was very old. You can be old or you can be mean but apparently you can’t be both. Not if you want a good turnout at your funeral.