Friday, June 17, 2011

Good-Bye, Aunt Kathryn . . .

Ozarks

I asked my little boy, En-Uk, for one more Ozark artwork to send to Aunt Kathryn, and he obliged, as you see. I hope that she saw it before she passed over that river into "Sweet Beulah Land" since she had been requesting some more art by En-Uk, as in this email message from about a month ago:
This message is for En-Uk. I enjoyed his latest art as much as all the others. I have never been able to make a comment on either blog, so have to send E-mail. I have been waiting for drawings of people, places and things that impressed En-Uk on his visits to the Ozarks. A special request from his Great Aunt Kathryn. Bye
En-Uk followed through on that request, as you can click and see: "The Ozarks," "Uncle Cranford," "Uncle Woodrow," "South Fork," "South Fork Restaurant," "Ozark Turtles," "Uncle John," "Granma," and most recently, "Ozarks," as you see above (or maybe this one, too).

As the end approached, Aunt Kathryn sent a different request -- to Uncle Cran, Aunt Virginia, and me -- about what she'd want done at her funeral. Since I can't be there to arrange things, here are the songs that she wants sung:
"Long Black Train"

"I Still Can't Say Goodbye"

"Peace in the Valley"

"Precious Memories"
She added, "If that song list is too long -- leave out the last two." The list doesn't look long to me. Anyway, I hope that I've found the songs that my aunt wanted, and I'm pretty sure about the last three on her list, but less sure about "Long Black Train," which I hadn't known of before. Anyway, Aunt Kathryn's request continues:
Hope you live long enough to carry out my last request for you to do -- No Preachin', Prayin', Bawlin' or Sqwallin'! HAVE A PARTY!
I wish that I could be present to take part in fulfilling my aunt's last wishes on that score, for she always was a lot of fun.

But there was some sadness to her life. Her father -- the grandfather after whom I was named "Horace" -- died from a tree-cutting accident when she was a little girl, and she's always missed him because they were very close, so here's what she requested for her grave:
Bury my ashes in Daddy's grave about where his arms are -- and just say "Kathryn is back where she belongs -- 'in my daddy's arms.'"

No head stone -- if any sign has to be put up -- only say . . . "Kathryn, Mother of Larry, David and Steven." No dates; no last names!!
She also requested the simple poem "Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep," by Mary Frye (and I think that I've located the definitive version from 1932 in that link) -- "To be read LOUD and CLEAR" -- at the graveside:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sun on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
A few days ago, En-Uk drew that final work of art for Aunt Kathryn, and I sent it to her by way of her eldest son:
Dear Larry,

I don't know if Aunt Kathryn can still enjoy En-Uk's art, but he's made one more work of art for your mother.

I've also attached it, so I hope it'll download. Maybe you could print it out and put in on the wall for Aunt Kathryn to see whenever she's alert.

Tell her that I love her, and that I'll see her on that other shore if I make it there. I'm sure that she will.

Love,

Jeffery

PS I'll make sure Uncle Cranford doesn't forget to bury Aunt Kathryn's ashes near the heart of Grandpa Hodges (if that's also what you three boys want).
I soon received an email from Aunt Virginia, informing me that Kathryn's youngest boy, Steve, had taken her into a hospice for care:
Steve took Kathryn to a Hospice House this afternoon. She is very weak.
After that, I got this from Uncle Cran, who had heard from Virginia and Kathryn's middle boy, David:
I just talked to sister Virginia and nephew David Young.

Sister Kathryn passed away after a lenghty illness. Her kidneys had been failing for a long time. The doctors talked to her about dialysis, but she refused to have it, and said she would just go on without it.

We had a good telephone conversation a few weeks ago. She told me she didn't have long to live, she is going to be cremated, and gave me a list to do for a memorial service when the boys bring her urn.

I promised to do what she told me. Then she sent it via email. I copied it and am going to keep it to remind me everything she wants done.

She wants her ashes to buried with Dad's grave, and just a simple stone with her name, and her three boys's names on it . . . .

Before I joined the navy she & Larry, David and Steve and myself had some good times down on the farm. We got to talk a lot during those days.

Although we didn't get to visit often in later years, we talked occasionally by telephone, and emailed each quite a bit.

Her family needs our prayers at this time.
She'll be foremost in my thoughts, I promise. I told my family that Aunt Kathryn had passed away, and when my daughter asked if I were sad, I suddenly couldn't speak . . .

But if I'd have been able, I'd have said how much Aunt Kathryn meant to me. She was young and pretty, with green eyes that she claimed made her a 'witch' (though she smiled to show that she was joking), and she took care of me in Kansas City when I was five, telling me tall tales of wrestling bears back down on the farm in Arkansas. That was about the only time that I was happy in the city during those days when I had to stay in that place. I remember happy times playing with her three boys -- Larry, David, and Steve -- and listening to them in naive belief as they convinced me that if I'd just eat enough clam chowder, I could be as strong as Popeye!

I tried it and believed myself stronger, but somehow still couldn't defeat them in arm wrestling.

After six months with Kathryn, her husband, and boys, I returned to Arkansas, where I remained until I finished school and again left the Ozarks for the big wide world. I didn't get to see Aunt Kathryn much after those six months in the city, but the time with her and her family remained a precious memory.

She did manage to come to my wedding and meet Sun-Ae. She would have liked to see our children, but the timing never worked out, and she passed away just yesterday, so there are no more opportunities on this earth.

Maybe in Beulah Land . . .

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18 Comments:

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

I'm sorry to read this sad news. Please accept my sincerest condolences. Life seems so fleeting, and every moment is precious. May her memorial service be as happy as she wanted it to be.

 
At 7:15 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Kevin. I reckon there'll be too many posts like this one in the next few years as my aunts and uncles pass on . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:09 AM, Blogger Debbie said...

Thank you for the tribute. I showed it to Virginia, Rhonda and David while we were going through things in Kathryn's apartment today. It brought tears.

 
At 8:10 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...

So sorry to hear about your Aunt Kathryn, Jeffery. May your precious memories of her be a blessing to you.

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Debbie. Aunt Kathryn shone for me at a dark time in my early years.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Kate Marie. Good to hear from you again.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a copy of the song, LONG BLACK TRAIN and have sung it on a few occasions.

I can send the words via email if you want it.

Cran

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If it's the song by Josh Turner, I found it and the words at the link, but if the song's a different one, then send me the words, and I'll locate a proper link.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Scott A. said...

Condolences and prayers...

The long-timers in Korea (or abroad) have to face this eventually....as I did in the early 2000s.

It sounds like she passed on her own terms, and that is always nice.

 
At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Selah.

Pat

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Scott. As I mentioned to Kevin, this will be happening more often in the near future.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:40 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Pat.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:24 PM, Blogger dhr said...

Dear Jeffery, En-Uk and family, I spiritually join all of you in this sad event.

See you in Beulah.

 
At 2:25 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Dario.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My condolences Jeff. To you, your family, and to all the extended clan.

Herschel D.

 
At 9:43 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Herschel.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You found the right song.
I don't have the deep voice like Josh, but I do my best.

Cran

 
At 6:55 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Uncle Cran. Josh Turner has a great voice, and the song is perfect. I can see why Aunt Kathryn liked it.

Jeffery Hodges

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