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UNCLE WILLIE AND THE FUNERALS

By Asa Sparks

It did not take Uncle Willie long to understand that the good pastor of the First Free-Will Bottom Baptist Church was taking all of the paying wedding business.

The pastor was wise in the ways of his sometimes wayward flock. When it became obvious to Uncle Willie that the message was "Go Preach" was being plowed under, so to speak, he promptly went to his other pastor at Second Freewill Pentecostal Baptist Church and told him the good news.

Asa with granddaughters>

Pastor Haysus Pastor was also wise in dealing with rambunctious church members. He told Uncle Willie that he would let Willie take on funerals when he was out of town. Since he did not know what to say, Willie would sit quietly at the wake with the family and this seemed to be of tremendous comfort. Uncle Willie could hardly wait until someone died and Pastor Pastor was off fishing.

Finally, an occasion came and the rain drizzled as they marched to the gravesite. The custom was for the family to sit under the canopy to the left of the casket while the pallbearers stood at attention on the edge of the grave by the right side of the casket and the ministers stood at the head.

Uncle Willie closed his umbrella as they walked under the canopy and stood respectfully to the side while the family was seated and the pallbearers bore their pall to the straps above the open grave. As Pastor Pastor and Willie walked around to the head of the casket, he noticed that the water from atop the canopy was dripping right where they had to stand.

As he walked into position, he took his trusty big, black bumbershoot from off his arm, began lifting it into position as he pushed the automatic-open spring-loaded button.

The pallbearers all enjoyed a sudden horizontal shower and face washing. The members at Second Freewill Pentecostal Baptist Church did not believe in public foot washing.

Free Embalming

Parker and his wife had an infant die during childbirth. Aunt Lena May was the church's self-appointed funeral coordinator. She regularly toured graveyards for ideas and fresh flowers. This time she proved valuable by conning a local funeral director into free embalming and a casket for only $100 for this dirt-poor fisherman family.

Uncle Willie drove over to the mortuary in his Rambler station wagon and loaded the little casket in back for the drive out to a country church with graveyard attached. When they arrived, the diggers were not yet finished with the grave. So, while his wife waited in the car, Parker jumped in and finished digging the grave for his infant son. Uncle Willie could not help. He had on his only Sunday go-to-meeting suit. Aunt Lena May bragged for the next six months about the wonderful funeral she had planned.

When it came time to read the ashes to ashes stuff, Uncle Willie loudly proclaimed, "We come this day to the newly opened ‘see-puhl-kree.’" At first Aunt Lena May just giggled, then she snorted, and finally she laughed so hard she fell out of her chair. Uncle Willie recovered by announcing that Jesus wants us to rejoice when a saint makes it into heaven.

On the way home, Aunt Lena May told him how to pronounce "sepulcher" and that she had also found out about the G.P. The bi-plane smoke writer had puffed out "Vote Hogg Pegram."

Yes, God really intended for Willie to get up and go plow. The next morning he closed down his ministries. His big disappointment was that he never got the opportunity to preach an old reprobate into heaven.