Her sister’s phone call stunned her to silence. The distant memory of their cousin’s disappearance stirred the cobwebs of recollections and came back to her consciousness like the first clap of thunder from a summer storm.
“Are you there?” Shanna asked.
Struggling to find words Katrice gulped hard, “Yeah.” Questions and memories collided. She could almost hear the crash. “Where did they find him? I always said it would end up like CSI.” Her head fell back onto the headrest.
Taking a deep breath Shanna continued, “A farmer found Kevin’s wallet when he was checking out some fencing and delivered it to the police. It took a couple hours for them to figure out that he was on the missing persons list.”
“Will there be an autopsy? Did Uncle Joe say if it was foul play?”
“Yes, there has to be one, suspicious circumstances and the fact that he was found only a couple miles from where he was last seen. I don’t know how Aunt Max is going to take this.”
Pictures of a fallow wheat field cordoned off by yellow tape, piles of bones and knowing evil-eyed crows filled Katirce’s mind. “How are Kelly and the kids doing?” She wanted to puke, scream and run from the room all at once.
“I haven’t called her yet. I want to talk to Uncle Milt and Aunt Max first, but I can’t get an answer at the house. I don’t know what to do. I wish you weren’t so far away.”
“I know, at times like this I wish I was closer, but I can be there in the morning if need be. I don’t know what to do either. It’s not everyday we get a dead body in the family. You know, Kevin is the first one to go since Grandma and Grandpa. That’s weird, it completely skipped a generation. Everyone must be feeling that closure, even this late, will be good. It can’t help but start the healing process. No more wondering where, what, and what if.”
“Hey, I’ve got another call coming in. I’ll talk to you later.”
Katrice didn’t stray far from the phone over the next several hours. While there wasn’t much solid information about Kevin’s death, people were making plans to get together. Everyone wanted to comfort his parents, his ex-wife and his children. With both grandparents gone, the occasions to gather were rare. Transportation, sleeping and eating arrangements underway, it almost felt like they were preparing for a family reunion and in a way they were.
Katrice called Shanna one last time before leaving for the airport. “I get in at 3:20, can you pick me up?”
“Perfect, Millie and Sam come in just ahead of you, so we can save one trip. Are you going to stay through the weekend? Aunt Max is taking this pretty hard and to make it worse, Cousin Diane is eight and a half months pregnant and bed-ridden. She’ll be glad to have you around for a couple of days. See you at passenger pickup.”
Shanna’s eyes were dark but she smiled wide, and hugged her sister. “Are you hungry? I know they don’t feed you any more on these short flights.”
That afternoon, the relatives who could get away on short notice gathered at the church. Aunt Maxine rested under the shade of the established trees while the rest of the family mingled. Uncle Joe brought the shovel. The small tree was in the back of Loren’s truck. Uncle Joe picked the spot, forming a casual triangle with the other trees, one a bit taller than its mate and now Kevin’s smaller tree filled joined them.
Everyone but Milt and Maxine took turns at the shovel, either digging the hole or filling it in. Even though only a small part of the family was present, there were enough relatives to form a circle of family members enclosed all three trees. Holding hands, the group bowed their heads while Uncle Joe led the prayer. Next, Kevin’s sister, Tracy led the saddened group in singing ‘There’s an Old, Old Path.’
The three Red Maples, holding a reunion of its own, reminded the family that one day they would all be together. By the time the Weston clan gathers for the final family reunion, this part of the church yard will be a forest. Here, the wind will whisper strains of the family’s favorite hymn…. ‘For the Savior walks all the way with you……’
Hymn by Vida Smith
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