Two days later, near the forest chapel, a sea of black umbrellas kept the drizzle from trickling down the starched collars and ruffled bodice fronts of those who stood around Alma Theibes’ casket. The scent of damp grass, freshly sawed wood and varnish infused the air. As the preacher delivered the eulogy in exalted tones, the plaintive whistle of a train echoed in the near distance.
Thaddeus stood apart from the rest, his gaze fixed on the glossed umber coffin. Of those gathered around, only he had not bothered with an umbrella. Even his wide-brimmed fedora he held down in front, pinched between both hands. The rain misted against his exposed head running in tiny rivulets down his shoulder-length blonde hair. Beneath his stiff bleached neckband and black batswing tie, hot perspiration mingled with the cool dampness of the drizzle.
Thaddeus thought it was fitting that they bury Alma on such a day as this. She had loved the splash of raindrops on her face and in her hair. He knew this because Alma herself had told him this confidence on one of their rare mother-son moments together. Rare because most of the time Alma had been busy running the sawmill, overseeing the forty-room mansion of Theibes House or doing those things expected of the head matriarch of any town. When she wasn’t otherwise engaged, she became a silent ghost-like creature traveling to the third floor suite where she hid herself away, until social obligations called her to life once again.
When Roy and Alma first built Theibes House, they lovingly planned it together and together they occupied the third floor suite with its luxurious three-room boudoir, bath and flourishing outdoor patio-garden. They had been happy then. Nevertheless, a mere two years after the completion of the manor, Roy Theibes was dead.
Droplets of rain splashed in Thaddeus’ eyes, mingling with his tears. He blinked them away. The coffin that held his mother’s remains blurred, wavering in and out his direct vision.
My God! How he hated funerals. They seemed so tiresome and grotesque. When he died, his wish was to have no one standing around crying over him. Put a torch to his dead remains and then go have a drink at the local tavern.
Funerals were for good for one thing only, to make people feel sad. Just like now. Beyond his control, Thaddeus mind swept back to that terrible year when he was five, the year his father died. That day, Roy came home from work early, feeling “a bit tired.” That is how he had put it…
“You’re overworked,” Alma fussed. “You’re trying to do too much in one day’s span. Why not hire a manager to take some of the load off your shoulders? At least until our boys are old enough to lend a hand.”
“I just need to relax and read my paper.” Roy smiled reassuringly, waving her anxiety aside.
Alma frowned with arms crossed against her chest. She stared at her husband. His face buried in the newspaper.
Little Thaddeus crawled up his papa’s knee and ducked beneath the newsprint pages. He settled into his father’s amble lap. Roy Theibes was a big man, six-foot two, 200 lb. He had silver hair mixed with gold and crystal blue eyes–Thaddeus’ eyes.
Copyright 2005 by Ledia Runnels
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