My mother’s family is passionate about visiting and cleaning the graves of their deceased. Once a year, the Peeks and the Nolens would gather to clean the tombstones and plant flowers at the grave sites of their people. Once, in Piedmont, when I was a little boy, I was helping to clean a grave of an ancestor of my grandfather named Jerry Mire Peek. When I asked my cousin Clyde whom this unknown relation was named after, he said, “He was named after the prophet Jerry Mire.

What a thing to acknowledge in your heart! To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing-I’m sorry, I would rather not go on.

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