Thursday, February 18, 2016


   I attended Old Man Woodard's’ funeral yesterday, it was held at the historic Spirit Filled Branches Church in our community. The funeral was well attended as expected, not by people who personally knew Amos but by those who knew of him and were curious to see how his wife, an outsider, would bury him.
   I always say funerals are for the living the deceased are either having a great time with Jesus or regretting his earthly actions in hell. It was clear that Meeka Woodard understood the art of having a respectable ceremony without going overboard. It was also amazing to see her children protect their mother from the opinions of people who thought bringing an Asian woman into a Black neighborhood was wrong.
    Meeka, never disrespected our community and supported her husbands efforts to maintain it’s rich history. (Someday there will be a book written about Eldersville South Carolina.) Her children were raised to appreciate all cultures yet live their lives according to their God given purpose and they were well aware of their fathers anonymous philanthropic activities done via Spirit Filled Branches Church.

   After the service the widow the members of Spirit Filled Branches Church to her home so that she could demonstrate her appreciate for their words of comfort with food. She had a lovely array of fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of cheese and crackers; to drink there was a variety of juices, water and wine. Folks were mad! They came to feast on fried chicken, fried fish, collard greens, potato salad and a host of deserts and they did not see it. A few people had brought the undesired dishes which Meeka respectfully turned away at the door! She would not let the food in her house.

   “My husband died because he waited to take care of himself, he kept putting off doing the right things. I will not contribute to the unhealthy lifestyle of another human being. Though I appreciate the effort you put in preparing this dish, I cannot accept it. Thank you.” Meeka told each guest who tried to present her with foods that were delicious but not according to her healthy examples of what an afternoon gathering could provide.

   I was not surprised at the number of people who left even though they said they came to pay their respects. Of course Sharon Sertim stayed.

   “Meeka,” Sharon started “You know when African Americans die we have what is called a reeeepasssst.” Sharon spoke loudly to Meeka as if she was dimwitted. “At the reeeepasssst African American’s traditionally serve things like col-lurd greenzzz, and friiiiiied chick-en. Now I know your people eat different things but you did marry a man of color and his people expect you to acknowledge his culture even though this is your period of bereavement. And you can’t turn down the help people give you, that is ruuuuuuud-da!”
   I sat there waiting to shut Sharon up if I thought Meeka had had enough but she just sat there attentively listening to Sharon. “Now Mrs. Woodid” whenever you need information on my culture I will be glad to help you. You have children that are half black; they are Amos’ children aren’t they?”
“Sharon!” I had to stop her there. “What kind of question is that? Of course those are Amos children! Why would you ask Meeka such a question when she just put her husband in the grave not even two hours ago. Are you that ignorant?”
   “Nettie, they look Chinese not Black and people have been talking. We might as well get this stuff out in the air now!”
“People aren’t talking Sharon, you are!”
“It’s all right Nettie, I know what kind of person Sister Sharon is, Amos spoke of her often.” Meeka said, her composure unchanged.
Sharon perked up knowing that someone had acknowledged her existence. “He did?” She inquired.
“Yes, Mrs. Sertim; Amos often warned me to disregard the opinions of people in this world who thought they were more knowledgeable than God and he always used you as an example.”
  If you want to know what it looks like when a person’s countenance falls it was the look on Sharon’s face as she got up and stormed out of the door! Meeka, whose posture did not change,  looked up to see a group of people standing snickering as they watched Sharon leave. Turning to her guest she stood and spoke:

“I understand the tradition of repast, I am well aware of the foods the Black culture serve in their homes and at various events. Every group you can name has one tradition or other. You know Jesus said something about making the word of God of no effect because of tradition, some traditions will kill you even though you are praying for healing.
   Poor eating habits and lack of exercise led to the premature death of my husband. There is nothing wrong with eating foods you like just as long as you eat them in moderation which includes proper portions. I have spoken to many of you and I am well aware of the pills you take for cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and even hormone imbalance.

My desire, my prayer, is that each of you live a long healthy life. The food I have prepared for you is an act of love not cultural disrespect. Most of you my husband has known from childhood. If you continue to live the way you are living now you will be joining him sooner rather than later.”
  The guest that stayed enjoyed a pleasant afternoon of conversation and left full.
Meeka, Madeline Freedman and myself stood on the front porch as the last guest left. Despite driving off in luxury cars including: Mercedes, Lexus, BMWs, a few Porches and Jaguars,  way to beautiful homes but they all had health issues.
  Why do people think living right has more to do with the amount of things one can buy than with quality of life?  Amos Woodard died a very wealthy man, yet his life was cut short because of the many things he put off doing despite his wife’s attempts at encouraging him to do otherwise.

Meeka Woodard was seven years older than her husband neither thought she would be burring him.

And that is the world according to NETTIE xxx Short Stories and essays by Marsha L F Randolph