It was summer in the south
and the penetrable cement is warm
beneath my bare feet and cotton dress.
The boxwoods and the pines fill out the still, thick air,
the sun beats down on hot, red bricks
and sharp church gravel.
I clasp the black wire grate, bound up the cement steps,
and open the white doors—
Mr. Greider shakes my hand,
pulling me and my sister inside.
In Sunday School we giggle with cousins
because Mr. Greider always pulls people in
with a GoodMorNING and a shake/pull.
Coke-bottle glasses and buttoned-up suit, he
with Doris and her salt and pepper hair.
It was fall in the south
and we wind past pines on leafy highways.
My hands clamp over my mouth
for we are to surprise them all
Drive in to Thanksgiving dinner
To squeals, hugs, and how y’all doins
We giggle with cousins,
drive to Wolf Trap and play games,
have cousin parties, with no adults.
We get back late and the cousins ask
What Ben and Doris are still doing here; it’s 11:00.
Ben and Doris laugh
We can party too!
It was winter in the south
We quietly drive under gray skies
past dormant pines…
We sit in the kitchen in silent shock
Doris makes calm conversation.
We are grateful.
Ben arrives, late, with a key.
Throws his head back
A good southern laugh.
You be a southern man jus one Sar-ty night, an you ain’t wanna be a northern man no mo.
It’s spring in the south
She’s spent it in hospitals pining for blossoms.
It doesn’t look good Mom says.
Ben & Doris have always been Ben & Doris.
Doris wants all the tubes out
Palms in, Doris waves Ben near
They kiss three times
Palms out, Doris waves goodbye.
She is strong and dignified,
Ready to meet her Lord.
What happened to Ben &
Doris E. Greider of Bridgewater passed away on Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.
In loving memory of our family friend, Doris Greider.