“Besides, funerals aren’t for show.”
Gertrude looked at her daughter’s ring. “You gonna wear it?” Her face was impassive, like her answer didn’t really matter, she just wanted to gauge her daughter’s feelings.
“No. It’s bad enough I still wear my weddin’ band.” Sherry’s voice was matter-of-fact.
“Ain’t nothin’ bad about lovin’ a man, sweetheart,” Gertrude advised. “Dead or alive, ya still love him. Ain’t nothin’ to be ashamed of.”
“I know.” Sherry removed the solitaire. “The therapist says if I’m ever gonna move on, it has to come off. Both of them.”
Gertrude lifted her finger, her voice taking on an authoritative tone. “Now, you listen here. Ain’t no therapist in the world can tell ya when it’s time to move on. Only yer heart can tell ya that. Don’t force anything on yerself. It ain’t healthy.”
“Maybe yer right,” Sherry conceded, smiling at her mom through another flush of tears. “But it don’t matter. With the ring on or off, it still hurts.”
Mandy Marx greeted Sherry as she entered the church. Kenny and Gertrude had slipped into the Sunday School room to sit with Denise during the service. Sherry nodded hello to Reverend Telly at the podium. Thankfully it was a closed casket, with a beautiful spray of white lilies draped over the coffin, and a black and white photograph of Jinny Marx resting on a tripod in front. Few flower arrangements were there, just two with a ‘Mother’ banner wrapped around them.
About thirty people from town and some unfamiliar faces sat scattered around the congregation. Some nodded hello to Sherry as she made her way down the aisle.
Martha was sitting by herself in the fourth row from the front. Noticing Sherry, Martha motioned her over. “Mandy says it’s to be a short service. Twenty minutes tops.”
“She seem well? Daddy and I saw her yesterday and she fell to pieces,” Sherry whispered.
Lina Groves strutted in, inviting herself to sit beside Martha. “Shame what happened to Jinny.” She picked up a hymnal from the wooden book rack in the pew before her.
“You never know when yer number’s up,” Martha said conversationally.
Lee Givens walked into the church. Both Sherry and Marsha looked up, noticing his attire. He was very handsomely dressed in a black suit and a navy blue tie. He nodded hello respectfully to the girls, taking a seat on the other side, in the adjoining row.
“Funny seein’ him here,” Martha commented. “He didn’t even know Jinny.”
“He had to come,” Lina added casually, thumbing through the hymnal. “He needs to be respectful.”
“Well, of course, but—”
“He wants to buy her house,” Lina interrupted.
“What?” Martha was surprised. “Man, he works fast!”
“He’s got himself a girlfriend and a house and he’s barely lived here two weeks,” Lina said smoothly, impressed with herself.
“Greg stands to earn a nice commission sellin’ Jinny’s house,” Lina bragged. “We’re thinkin’ about havin’ one custom made after this.”
Martha snorted. “Must be nice.”
Reverend Telly shushed her. Almost everyone in the church heard the interruption and suddenly all eyes were on the girls. Sherry’s face was beat red as she quickly looked toward Lee and then away again.
Ned and Kate arrived and Sherry jumped up. “I think I’ll go sit with the Bakers.”
“But—” Martha said.
Sherry ignored her.
As she passed Lee he smiled quickly, turning his attention toward Reverend Telly, who was adjusting the microphone, getting ready to start the service.
Ned and Kate sat in the row behind Lee. “Mind if I sit with you?” Sherry asked.
Kate patted the bench. “Not at all, sweetie.”
The service was brief but very touching. Mandy read a eulogy, bringing almost everyone to tears talking about how her mom was so brave raising three children on her own after her Pa died. The fact that Jinny never indicated her financial
Jack Heath, John Thompson