Although, I had kept up with Walter through mutual friends through the years, I had not taken the opportunity to speak directly with him, which I deeply regret. I'm not sure what my reservation was. Maybe, I just wanted to remember him in his hey day. I would hope it was nothing more than a matter of physical distance and, perhaps, just laziness on my part for not making the effort.
Last year, a friend of mine, who happens to be a neighbor and close friend of Walter and Mary's, called to tell me that Walter had passed away after a long and difficult illness. But, she went on to tell me the details of his final days. And, like Walter's life, he went in style and grace and, I'm sure with a smile on his face.
He had been in and out of the hospital. One of the twins was getting married and the reception was planned to be held at the farm. That didn't surprise me since they all had a close love for the family home place. Walter had hoped to rally in time to be there for his son. But, it was not to be. Unfortunately, he was not even at home. He passed away at the hospital just days before the wedding. No one was surprised when the family announced that the wedding and all its festivities would go on as planned. That was the way Walter would have wanted it to be.
What was a little surprising for some of the wedding guests was that Walter had always wanted to be buried at the farm, and the family did not hesitate to grant that wish. The reception was held on a lovely southern afternoon on the lawn of Walter and Mary's home - just yards away from Walter's final resting place. The bar was appropriately set-up next to Walter's grave. Mary just covered the fresh dirt on the grave with magnolia greenery so as not to offend anyone. But the party went on, without missing a beat, Walter and all.
My only question was - Were the Gleaton's there with their "Church Going" shoes on.