It probably all began back in the good old days when our children were in elementary school. In order to supplement school finances the children and or the parents were required to sell different products during the school year. The profit from these endeavors provided “extras” for the students.
With eight children making their way through the local school system, we bought an amazing number of relatively useless products. My personal favorite was the tin of assorted cookies, some of which I even liked, the rest of which the kids happily munched on.
The cookie tins themselves were the real prize. They featured various scenes in glorious color on the lids, and they were virtually indestructible. Proof of that is I still have most of them.
Somehow, I discovered that when empty they were excellent storage containers for photos I never got put into proper albums. They are stacked neatly, if not in any particular order, on shelves in one of the bedrooms.
Anyway, whether by accident or by design, our children all developed into good salesmen due to the extracurricular training during their school years, and we developed into willing customers.
The older boys delivered newspapers, and, of course, we were their best customers. In their teens, several worked at gas stations, no problem supporting them by making purchases there. We enjoyed buying pizza when one worked at Ruth’s pizza place. And when some worked at a furniture store, we bought some nice new furniture.
The older girls helped out at an Amish bakery in the south end of town. Buying those products was a real pleasure. Then when they worked at the hospital they understood when we were not eager to “enjoy” their services. When younger ones got jobs at drugstores and hardware stores, we did our shopping there.
Then after one graduated, he began selling used cars. We lucked out there because his younger brothers and sisters became his customers. But when his brother began selling new appliances, we ended up with a new refrigerator and a freezer. Supporting the home team was becoming more expensive.
Sometime in the 1980’s, the used car salesman was promoted to selling new cars and fleets. We managed to avoid buying a whole fleet, but we did buy our very first brand new automobile— a dark blue Cavalier. And a few years later he sold his Dad a fancy blue Topaz.
Then it was Joe’s turn. He worked at Oliver’s Funeral Home, later Oliver-Floyd Funeral Home. After he earned his degree at mortuary school, he pointed out to us that we should probably invest in a tombstone because prices were definitely going up.
His Dad took to the idea immediately. For several years he had been trying to tell me the same thing. At first I refused to think about it. Then I insisted that the only kind of tombstone I would consider was a big natural rock out of a farm field somewhere. The logistics of finding such a rock and moving it to a cemetery lot definitely dampened Bill’s zeal to plant our tombstone.
But now it had become a matter of tradition. We had always supported our children in their business endeavors. In short order we had chosen a nice black stone properly engraved except for the year of death dates. It was placed on our cemetery lot, and for the most part I was able to ignore it.
Shortly after I retired from teaching, our young grandson Eddy died after a terrible bout with cancer. He was buried in the Floyd family lot beside our tombstone. We were all devastated.
Eddy’s classmates from the school where I had taught were permitted to attend his funeral. When the funeral was over I heard one of the boys tell another one, “Mrs. Floyd is dead.” The other boy looked up at me and then back at the first boy and said, “She can’t be dead. She’s standing right here!” The first boy looked in complete puzzlement from me to my tombstone, And even in the depths of grief, I had to smile. I wonder if he ever figured it out.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Nov. 2, 2005.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.