How long ago was it I blogged on a church funeral? These are getting too frequent. My wife is about to turn 70, so I guess it just goes with the age.
By church funeral I mean that one of the “saints” in the Pentacostal church my wife was raised in passed. I passed by the man who introduced me to this whole world, Leroy, about whom I’ve blogged before, and I touched his hand so he would look up as I passed by (I didn’t want to hold the long line up as we were moving pretty fast). He is 90 or maybe 91 now.
As I passed back to the doors of the church, I came on the many church members who knew me back in the day. It is funny because out of perhaps 300 or 350 people there, there were only maybe one or two other White people, so I’m sure members who don’t know me were trying to figure out why so many of the old-timers and pillars were stretching their hands out to me in greeting as I passed by. It is a measure for me, always, how segregated our society is that these funerals bring out an almost entirely Black contingent. I blogged before on the birthday of an 80 year old friend where out of about 200 people I was the only White. How can White people – OK, Republicans – claim that “there were no problems and everyone got along” and so they cannot understand the Civil Rights Movement? The demographics show clearly that older Blacks had little chance to gain the friendship of Whites.
At any rate, the funeral, especially the music, took me back to when this sister was in a trio and I spent many evenings in that church learning a culture quite foreign to me. She was one of the members who treated so well it shocked me; I had never encountered such unrestrained giving. Not that these people were really “saints”, they had plenty of back-biting and power struggles in the church but the “new” pastor, the son of the old one, has overseen the growth of the church and, most importantly, the growth in the education level of its members. He and his wife untiringly support good health habits, nutrition, exercise, etc.; and in a Black population, esp the aging segment, that is no small contribution to society.
This sort of church support and outreach (they have a building next door devoted to helping needy persons in this very poverty-stricken area of Phoenix) is what conservatives and Republicans (same thing) talk about, but when these people had to flee Texas to get the right to vote and a decent job, they were derided for getting above themselves. They were supposed to stay and chop cotton for The Man. The stories my father-in-law told were crazy but this man with maybe a fourth grade education displayed what it was all about when he made my wife take him to the polling place when he was dying of cancer. “Too many of us have died, Sister, for me not to vote” were his words. A nice memorial to a man who voted for Ike but didn’t have a chance to vote for the first Black president.