UP FROM THE GRAVE
York, South Carolina
York, South Carolina
You couldn’t of asked for no better funeral weather. I do hate a sunny day for a funeral, don’t you? With sunshine and birds singing, it just don’t seem right. It’s like all creation is mocking your sadness. But this was a perfect day for a funeral. The rain had quit, but the sky was still gray, and there was the kind of nip in the air that makes you want to pull your coat up tight around you. Most all the leaves was already off the trees, best I can remember.
We had a nice service over at the church with it packed plumb full,
Then we all walked out back to the cemetery. Once we got gathered round the grave, Preacher Gilroy started up again. Said the dust to dust, ashes to ashes thing with all of us standing there wishing he’d hurry it up. O. Ma didn’t allow them to set up no chairs or funeral tent on account of it cost extra. So there we stood while he rambled on, repeating the same stuff he’d done said back at the church. Same stuff he said every funeral. I probably coulda said it for him, I’d heard it so much.
When the preacher got done, my cousin
But anyhow, our neighbor,
He fired off a shot and we all jumped like we’d been goosed. When O.
Ma jumped, standing right on the edge of the grave,
the dirt give way and down she fell in the hole. My sister’s little
boy hollered, “He shot O. Ma,” and people all around started wailing
and carrying on something awful. O. Ma’s sister, my
Me and some others run over to look in. There set O. Ma, sunk down in that red mud with her little black hat knocked all wonky and one eye gunked shut, but she didn’t appear to be hurt.
Then that fool
Well, they all shut up and looked at one another, and Preacher Gilroy, who’d never give permission in the first place for the flag to be carried out of the church, tucked his Bible under his arm and walked over to pick it up. He shook the leaves off of it and checked to see if it got dirty.
Them what was standing next to her had to jump out of the way, for
she shot up so fast we never seen how she done it. She took off
tearing round that cemetery, waving her arms over her head and
hollering, “Up from the grave! Praise God. Ovaline has rose up from
the grave just like the good
All we could do was stand and watch while she run in and out amongst them tombstones waving her hands with her big bosoms just a flopping, and the watch what she always wore on a chain round her neck bouncing around on top of them. It was just like when I seen her get the Holy Ghost that time Mama took us to the revival at Aunt Alberta’s church over in Arkansas when I was nine.
I never seen nothing like it before nor since, for once was all we
ever went. Mama didn’t hold with no such carrying on in church. But
that night, Aunt
So them what was muddy rode with
NOTE: This story was first published in Broomweed Journal in 2005 with shorter versions appearing in the Oxford So & So, Yesterday’s Memories, and Tombigbee Country Magazine in 2007.