I think sometimes I should rename this blog, “Death and Food,” or “Food and Death,” which sounds an awful lot like a bit by comedian Eddie Izzard called “Cake or Death.”

I was back in Mountain City the other day, a rare occurrence outside of Christmas these days, for the funeral of our closest family friend. Did you ever have someone who was so close, so special to your family, that they were closer than 90% of your blood relatives? It was that sort of loss.

At the cemetery, the Odd Fellows Cemetery, a name I always chuckled at even though I have recently come to find that the Odd Fellows are quite the honorable, altruistic fraternal organization, although I know of no chapter still in existence in Mountain City, we stood in the steady rain. Rain is the most appropriate funereal weather.

As I lingered there, rained upon yet not actually wet (this is also typical of funerals — that there is usually the absence of high winds that might otherwise render umbrellas and raincoats superfluous), I looked about and saw something typical of a small town: I knew each and every name on each and every tombstone. Sure, I might not have known every single family member under each grave marker, as many were dead long before I was born, but not a single family name was foreign to me.

Classic small town American life is like this. Families plant roots and stay in the same burg for generations and become part of the landscape — literally.

To say that a funeral was sad is redundant, but perhaps saddest was looking at all of those names. Along with the oldest generations there were, unfortunately, so very many names of people who meant a lot to me, people who passed after I left Mountain City and whom I would never see again.

I’ve frequently complained to my mother that she oftentimes told me about a local passing far too late for me to be present at the proceedings. Are funerals important? I don’t know. I do know that it brings a feeling of closure, finality, and the opportunity to express respect, appreciation, and admiration for the life of the deceased. On this recent rainy day, I saw the names of so very many people who I did admire, I did appreciate, and I did respect. All gone now. All expressed as nothing more than names on stones.

Yes, I did eat food. When in Gibbsville, it is incumbent upon one to stop at the Coney Island in Yorkville (the one in downtown has started to go downhill in my humble opinion) for a cheesedog with chili and raw. They also fry their Mrs. T’s perogies which, although not very good for you, is something most of us are too lazy to do at home.

Peace and rest in peace,