Halloween is a weird time to have a funeral. So Friday morning, I suited up in the burying clothes, one more time. I had on a starched white shirt, a nice bolo and my hair pulled back. While I trust Google Maps for some things, the combination of iPhone and Google rendered incorrect instructions. Slid in a few minute late, and quietly seated ourselves in the back row.
Friend of mine’s aging father died. In the funeral parlor, I looked around. The eulogy was droning on, the young pastor was hacking his way through his lines. In the row in front of me, three different guys caught my attention. Two of them work work shirts with a company name and their own names, below the company’s embroidered logo. The guy next to them had a mullet. A long one. Longer hair than mine. His sport coat was a traditional western yoke cut. So was mine, not that it matters.
I glanced around, blinking back my own tears. More yoke cut jackets. Very few folks with long hair.
In the front row, the deceased was Silver Medal/Purple Heart Marine, in a front row, there was a contingent of “Blue Hats,” part of a local Purple Heart group. Semper Fi.
Mostly Vietnam Vets, but I noticed at least one other Korea-era soldier. I don’t care if one’s politics dictates that a particular war is right or wrong, always, always be mindful and grateful of the Vets. Thank them. I don’t have many regrets but I regretted not being able to thank those guys in the blue hats. I don’t mean it figuratively, each and everyone of them? They took a bullet for the team.
In as much as Austin has changed, in as much as Austin is different and global, and in as much as Austin has sold its soul? This isn’t my first “county” funeral, and for that matter, not my first funeral at that funeral parlor – there’s an ex buried next door – there was still some of the old Austin magic in the air.
Hopping a freight train to ride into town to see movies, signing up for the military as soon as they turned 18, family from great-grandchildren up to the oldest siblings, and the magic, it was still there. It’s a feeling that underneath Austin’s fancy veneer, there are still roots that go to the very core.
One buddy – native Austin – called those roots “country roots.”