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The Daily Post, True Stories: written as I remember

The Undertaker

     Sitting alone at a café in Paducah, Kentucky earlier this spring, James Miller, an attorney in Owensboro was preparing his notes for a type of eulogy he would be offering later that day for a close friend who had recently died. He was struggling to find the ‘right words’ to put on the scrap of paper he was holding in his hand. Carol Palmore was someone whom he had met while water-skiing on the Ohio River when they were young adults in the early 1970’s. They had remained friends over the next 45 years. He knew he could say that she was the smartest, kindest, most genuine person he had ever known, but what few words could be boiled down, yet still sum up, the essence of Carol!
     It seems as though the news of Carol’s death had spread across the entirety of Kentucky by word of mouth, major news affiliates, and the multitude of community-benefited organizations that she had touched over the many years of her public career. Few did not grieve her passing.
     A lone gentleman sitting at the next table noticed the contemplation on James’ face. In small towns in the rural South, even the larger southern cities for that matter, most folks are aware when there are strangers amidst the locals. He asked for pardon for his interjecting into the silence, the question of from where James hailed. “Owensboro, Sir. That’s my hometown.”
     The restaurant patron, upon hearing of James’ home of Owensboro, asked him if he knew Carol Palmore. He quickly looked up and smiled broadly, “Yes, she was a ‘one of a kind,’ special friend of mine. Did you know her too?”
     “No, regretfully I did not,” he sighed, “and from what I’ve heard and read, I’m the lesser for it.” Having finished his lunch, he stood up, retrieved his Fedora and turned to leave. Almost as an afterthought, he made a slow turn back and placed his business card next to James’ hand. On his departure, he said, “I am truly sorry for her passing.”
     Picking up the card and seeing that the man was a funeral director, he at once assured himself of what his summarization of Carol’s life should read. He scribbled on the paper a quote that the departing fellow’s words brought to his mind.
     “Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die; even the undertaker will be sorry.” Penned by Mark Twain.

About Barbara Duncan Mathies

Owner of the French Lick Dome - Lodge & Retreat Center A 5 bedroom, 6 bath home on 22 acres A place to regain your health - both mental and physical


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