Ellen chose not to attend the funeral once she learned it would be a simple service at the village church fifty miles away, a great relief to her husband and mother. In the 1940’s a trip of that length on winding, rutted roads was no small endeavor. Naturally, in the absence of air conditioning, most trips in the sunny south might invest over a steamy ride with the windows down, dust fogging in the windows. It would not do for a pampered lady like Ellen to arrive sweaty and dishelved with wnd-blown hair. Ellen reasoned she didn’t know Cousin Jean’s friends and could grieve in the comfort of her own home. Charles and his boys escorted Geneva while the girls were left at home with Birdie and Josie. Josie was devastated to miss the trip, since she’d hoped to see her sweetheart, Bobby.
A group of true friends gathered to honor Cousin Jean’s life. Due to her oddness and departure from the accepted role for women, she never been plagued with foolish friendships. She’d farmed, hunted, fished and shared her life with those she loved in the face of scorn, criticism, and family estrangement. She gave generously of herself, especially in her love for her orphaned niece, Geneva. It was a life well-lived.
Returning to to farmhouse, they received friends. The table, counters, and refrigerator groaned under the weight of casseroles, fried, chicken, potato salad, cakes, pies. Robert, Bessie, Bobby, and their young son Freddy attended the service and joined them at the meal. Robert had grown up on the farm and brought Bessie there as a bride. Cousin Jean had attended the birth of both children, along with a midwife. They had spent more hours with Jean than anyone else these past years and deeply grieved her passing. They assumed Geneva would have inherit, but should she sell, they could be out of a home and job.
Geneva assured them they’d continue as before, but would get back to them as soon as the will was read, which did provide them some ease.