The funeral was packed with people. It seemed as if the whole town had taken the afternoon off to be in attendance. The chapel was so full that people were pouring out the door and into the street. Gabriel was astonished at the sight. Had he known any better, he would think a celebrity had passed.
He took his mother’s arm and led her silently into the chapel. She was adorned in full mourning, black head-to-toe. Gabriel felt a little out of sorts with her. She’d not spoken again since finding her husband’s final resting spot.
The planning was hard. He and his brothers made every decision while their mother silently stared at the floor or out the window. Today was the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. After this he hoped that they would be able to move on with their lives as best as possible. His job in California beckoned to him and he longed for the warm breeze. Here there was nothing but cold and dead leaves.
Gabriel sat with his mother on his left and his younger brothers, Elijah and Uriel to the right. The funeral went on as planned, a large Catholic Mass. He went through the motions until it was time for his eulogy. A thing he had been dreading.
He made his way to the pulpit, script in hand and waited. The silence was deafening. He looked over what he wrote, cleared his throat and failed to find his voice.
“My father,” he read after some time, “will never go down in the history books as a great man.”
What was he saying? Were these words actually coming out of his mouth? Was this really happening right now?
“No doubt, he was a brilliant mind. He saved countless lives, some of them here within these walls. His tenacity felt by all who worked with him.”
Gabriel stopped. He looks up from his script and saw the saddened faces of the mourners. When he saw his mother looking at him, tears streaming down her lily white face he came to a decision. He was going to wing it.
“But you all know these things,” he said. “There’s not a single person in this town that wasn’t touched by Tom Richardson. What you don’t know is the tender love he shared with his wife. When he became ill, she spent her time caring for him. While my brother Uriel took care of the house. When our father was too ill to work, Uriel took a second job, then a third. Myself and my brother Elijah began sending money home. And together, even separated by a hundreds of thousands of miles, we were a family. And here we sit together remembering a man that we loved. Still love. Our father was not a great man, but he was a good man. And I miss him.”
He turned to the closed casket and placed a hand on the lid. Soon his two brothers were at his side, then their mother. And the four clung to one another and wept.