Our Rural Roots

As We Gather for Goodbye

The tiny white church sitting at the top of a hill is overflowing with people. Cowboy-hatted men stand with eyes cast down upon recently shined boots. Women crowd the pews with their pearls on and hair poofed. The altar has grown awash in flowers. Old, familiar songs drift out the open door:

"How Great Thou Art." "Old Rugged Cross." "Amazing Grace."

Most Sundays, these folks visit a variety of churches. Today, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, Episcopalian, Assemblies of God sit together. They hug each other as they walk in and say the "Our Father" as one. Differences matter not as they mourn together, pray together and remember together.

We gather again in the quiet, country cemetery. The sun beats down, and the ranchers whisper about rain or the basketball season, or the last time that they all stood in the same cemetery around a different grave. This same community has been here before and will be here again. Together.

Once the prayers have been prayed and "Taps" has been played, we load into pickup trucks and drive to the old school building for lunch. If there is one thing small-town ladies do right, it is a funeral meal.

A spread big enough to feed an army sits out on tables spanning the width of the basketball court. And here, people recognize the different dishes based on the cooks. "Oh, that's Mary's chocolate cake," or "Those look like Pam's enchiladas."

Small towns are not for everyone. There are no fancy restaurants. You have to drive two hours to the nearest Walmart. A lot of these people have never flown on an airplane or seen the ocean or possessed a passport.

But, they know the meaning of neighbors and of community and of love. And, they show it when times get hard. If you ask me, small towns are never finer than in these moments.

> Writing helps Tiffany Dowell Lashmet cope with life's hardest times. She balances farm, farm children and a career in ag law from the Texas Panhandle. Follow her blog at littlehousebiglifetx.wordpress.com, on Instagram @littlehousebiglifeblog and on Twitter @TiffDowell.

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