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Big Compassion In Small Towns

One of the things I like best about living in a small town is the way the whole community wraps their arms around you when something bad happens and hugs you until the hurt subsides.

Recently I had a chance to experience the compassion of others when my beloved grandmother passed away. She was known as Grandma, not just to me but to all who knew her.

As soon as friends and neighbors heard of her death the phone started ringing. People sent cards and flowers to express their sympathy. Many brought food so that I wouldn’t have to worry about how to feed my family. Familiar and unfamiliar faces visited us at the funeral home and shared memories of Grandma’s kindness. She would have been touched to see how many loved her and by the words spoken by her grandson, my brother Robert, at her service.

“She played Uncle Wiggly with me for hours at a time,” he said. “I was convinced I would grow up to be the Uncle Wiggly Champion of the world because I won every game. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I won every game not because of my great talent, but because she let me.”

Grandma had a knack for making us all feel like winners.

On the way from the funeral home to the gravesite I was reminded again of how much I like small-town ambiance.

In small towns, whenever a funeral procession passes, cars and trucks pull over to the side of the road as a sign of respect.

I suppose every small town has a few individuals known for their special attributes. One such member of our community is Jake. He doesn’t own a car and I see him walking alongside the road almost every day. Jake loves hats and he wears different ones to celebrate the different seasons. At Christmas he wears a Santa hat. During the summer he frequently wears one with a fish head on the front and the tail coming out the back. My personal favorite is his Mexican sombrero.

On the day of Grandma’s funeral Jake happened to be wearing a black cowboy hat. As soon as Jake saw the hearse and the cars stopping to let us pass, he stopped walking, removed his hat, placed it over his heart, and bowed his head. It was one of the sweetest, most touching signs of respect I think I have ever seen.

I will miss my grandmother but I know I was lucky to have her as long as I did. And saying goodbye is made a little easier because of the loving arms of friends and family wrapped around me.

Grandma…Nettie Lee DeMumbrum, June 11, 1913-December 13, 2002.

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