A Charlottesville Funeral

This morning my family gathered at the Hill and Wood funeral home in downtown Charlottesville right across the street from Emancipation Park, sight of the Robert E. Lee statue where lots of ugliness broke out this summer. My cousin Mary and I got there early and walked around the park one small square big. A group of preschool children holding on to a rope traversed in front of the statue, now draped in black plastic so as not to draw any attention to itself, without batting an eye. A number of homeless men lay on the grass of the square and no one seemed to pay a bit of attention to the mass under plastic as if it does not even exist any more.  

Across from the statue, and next to the funeral home parking lot was a house that once served as a sanitarium owned by some relatives of ours, but no one could recall how we were related. It all seemed appropriate since we were there to celebrate the lives of Margy Hench Underwood and her husband Oscar Underwood. Margy had grown up in Charlottesville and lived in Pavilion IX on the lawn of the rotunda at UVA since her father, Atcheson Hench was the head of the English Department.

After the service where the Michie contingency overwhelmed the Underwood side we all went to Farmington to a lovely lunch hosted by Oscar’s sister, who was not able to be there. In perfect Charlottesville fashion lunch was dominated by a lovely bar, but my cousin Ellen had made sure they would have iced tea for me which was so sweet since I am the only Presbyterian in a huge long line of Episcopalians. 

During the service Ellen spoke about her mother’s love of family and how important it was. It made me happy that so many of us Michie’s and Michie Outlaws as we call the people who marry us, were able to come and celebrate Margy and Oscar.  

I especially loved that they died four days apart. Not only did they have a happy sixty year marriage, they did not have to live life apart or alone. It also made for a very efficient memorial, something I strive for. I just have to remember to put enough money in the will for the big open bar that is required if I am going to have any turnout from the Michies at my funeral.

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