My day began earlier than usual today--I was out of bed at 6:45, at the office by 8:00 a.m., and we had staff meeting until 9:00. Then Melinda and I flew out the door, ran by my house to drop off my car and pick up my cooler, sandwich and water, and then it was off to San Angelo. She had said it was a 3-1/2 hour drive but that's from her house, which is 45 minutes closer than mine. Anyway, without stops, we made it to First United Methodist Church at 1 p.m. for the 2 p.m. funeral of Elmer Kelton.
I wasn't going to go--no way to get there. Melinda said Tuesday if I wanted to go, she'd take me, but I didn't think it was fair to ask her to drive me and take time from her work just because I'm a wimp who won't drive that far alone. But Wednesday, my boss called and said both Melinda and Susan were going, and it was up to me what I wanted to do. Since I was the one with the long friendship/publishing relationship with Elmer,, I really felt I should go--and I wanted to. I was so glad I did. It was simple, brief service--the kind Elmer would have approved. There was scripture and prayer and a eulogy, all short, and two hymns--"Amazing Grace" and "Just as I am," which from what the minister said had great meaning to Elmer. As the family processed out--and my goodness, there were a lot of them!--his wife, Ann, looked at us, so I was glad she knew we were there, even though we had signed the guest book. A beautiful and good-sized church filled with, if Melinda's estimate is right, about a thousand people. Some businessmen, lots of ranchers (some of the males in the family procession wore jeans), and I saw several people I know from the world of western writing. I could hardly bear to walk by the open casket, for I didn't want to see Elmer like that. I think I want to believe he lives on in my mind. I'm still have a hard time grasping Texas without Elmer Kelton. But I was very glad I went.
Melinda and I, as we can, chattered all the way down and all the way back--grandchildren, West Texas towns, etc. She pointed out vineyards, and I told her who I knew that had grown up in Ballinger or lived in Rising Star. In Brownwood, where we stopped for gas and I went to the restroom, we got caught in a gusty rainstorm--both soaking and windblow, but as soon as we turned north, we were under clear skies. As we approached Fort Worth, the sky to the north was threatening--Melinda kept saying "It's raining at my house." She hoped it would stay north, but it didn't. She hadn't been gone long at all until it began to thunder and rain, and it was raining gently when we left this morning, so I hope we got some good moisture.
I'm tired, with many loose ends to tie up for the night, so I must get on to other things.