Father left, bigger than life, one morning. He came home in a box. Mother had the coffin set up in the parlor. The coffin was open of course. Great candles illuminated the coffin. Father reclined inside, his hands crossed over his black frock coat, his face unrecognizable. Mother ordered us to sit by that coffin all night as mourners came and went. Everyone was weeping except Mother or us. Mother said we not suppose to weep. We all had new funeral clothes on which did not fit being store bought. Mother wore store bought widow’s weeds of impressive blackness with a great black veil. She sat as if on a throne the same way she sat in that damn private pew at her fire and brimstone kirk. That was when I first felt the grief and mourning she would use on us kids as if a weapon.
I will always remember the funeral. It rained nonstop. The water poured into the grave as the grave diggers eased Father’s coffin down into the mud. The kirk’s minister gave this dreadful speech on hellfire and damnation because Father refused to quit his Quaker Meeting Hall. Mother had the final word however. She refused to let Father’s fellow Quakers bury him. She had Father buried in the kirk churchyard. So none of Fathers’s Quakers were allowed to attend. Hired funeral attendants attended in their grand funeral costumes and great sashes of funeral black and wands of mourning. There were weepers too, little children hired to weep beautifully. We all stood in a circle around the grave as water poured down on us and the coffin. Mother ordered us not to weep. I remember there was some dispute whether or not it was proper for Mother to attend the funeral. But as there was no other Hogg to attend for Mother it appeared she was allowed to come. All of Mother’s brothers, my uncles, were in India or other diverse places. Mother had never kept in touch with her kind. She seemed to have cut herself off from her Hogg clan. So no Hogg attended.
An odd thing happened. For a moment, just a moment, I thought I saw Father standing there among the mourners attending his own funeral. I swear I saw him. He stood there smiling. Seeing me seeing him he winked one eye that way he always did when we connected, Father and Son, fooling Mother with some nonsense or other. Then he was gone. I guess it was my imagination. I was just so desperate to see Father alive.