In 1972, my grandfather (“Papaw”) Lockwood Prentiss Cammack died of leukemia; I was 11 years old. It was my first real experience or encounter with death, apart from the occasional pet fish or animal we hunted. I don’t recall much about his illness leading up to his death, apart from some vague recollections that my mother spent a fair amount of time at the hospital with him.
I do recall his funeral, however. I was deeply impressed by the number of crying people there, and I was a bit ashamed of myself for feeling sad (we had been raised, I suppose, with the traditional “boys don’t cry” dictum). My grandmother, weeping, threw herself at the casket and kissed him before being moved off to the hearse.
Afterwards, we gathered at the family home on Garner Road; my cousin Jim and I swung from the trees out front and asked each other, Did you cry? He admitted that he had, and I would not admit that I was at all moved. It was sunny but not warm, and no one played football that day.