When we returned from the funeral in NC, I found a wonderful email from my friend Phyllis, which included the photo above. This is a much better photo of Dell; you can better see her stylish, well-coiffed, smiling self. (And no, that's not her house, heavens! That's another corner of our store - including the Citizens for Animal Protection fund raising booth in the back.)
It was a good funeral. Can funerals be good? We saw so many people whom we had come to love and appreciate during our years living in Warrenton, and were reminded once again of the warmth and acceptance we experienced there. Getting to NC from OH wasn't too easy - we decided to drive through the mountains of WV at the beginning of that awful storm, which added over four hours of time to our drive, and an extraordinary amount of challenge. Still, as Gerry (my Oldtimer) said "It had to be done."
The priest said the most significant thing, the statement I latched onto, during the service. He read Matthew 25 (yes, I had to look that up, what do I know?) and focused on the phrase "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." He could not have chosen anything to more perfectly sum up Dell, and you could see every sign of it there in the people who came to honor her. We stood there at graveside near her family, with the people who knew her and her daughters, her relatives, the people she met at the beach, and the newcomers to that small town - people like us. Yes, she welcomed us - northerners in their second marriage; Egyptian Muslims opening a restaurant; gay couples with Main Street businesses; and the list goes on... I think the only word that could describe her better than "welcomed" would be "embraced." The priest went further to admonish both the congregation and the townspeople to remember to keep Dell's spirit going, and continue to welcome; I feel certain they will.
We left having seen, if only for a moment, good friends; we ate good food; we experienced warm weather; but most importantly, we took home full hearts. I am forever grateful.
Later today I will catch up and post my last few photos for January. After this, we will go to "Photo a Week."