Saturday, August 12, 2017

Horseman Pass By

by Pa Rock
Proud Nephew

My uncle, Floyd Edgar Sreaves, was born on September 5th, 1930, the youngest child of Dan and Siss Sreaves of rural Newton County, Missouri.  He spent his entire life within a few miles of his birthplace and, at the time of his death this past Wednesday he owned and was living on a property across the road from the place where he had grown up.  He had been the last surviving child of Dan and Siss.

(Uncle Floyd told me once of how he had been at home alone with his mother when he was young, and her dress had caught fire from the wood stove.  He said that he had stayed calm and led her outside and rolled her on the yard to put the fire out.  I am retelling that story here because I don't want it to be lost to history.)

Uncle Floyd was my mother's baby brother.  He was seventeen when I was born in 1948, and Mom told the story of his coming to the hospital to meet me.   Somebody handed me off to Floyd, and after a few minutes of examining his new nephew, he threw my mother into a state of panic when he loudly announced, "Why Florine, he's only got nine toes!"  A hurried recount by Mom revealed that her brother was just being funny - though she was not amused!

Many parents, especially those with several children, "call the roll" when they are angry or upset, snapping children's names at random until they land on the right one.  I was the only boy in our family, and when Mom was angry with me she would often revert back to her birth family and call me"Floyd."

Uncle Floyd's funeral was held today at the Swars Prairie Baptist Church in Newton County, and the burial was in the church's lovely old cemetery - the place where his parents and all four of his grandparents are interred.   Floyd,  a farmer and horseman, was delivered to the church this morning on a beautiful and ornate wooden wagon pulled by two horses, and after the funeral service, his casket was taken out into the cemetery by the same contrivance.

Apparently one of the most affected mourners was Floyd's old mule, Pete.  Pete wasn't at the service, but the minister did discuss him at length in the eulogy.   There was also a color photo of Uncle Floyd sitting astride Pete which was displayed on the front of the funeral program.  They were standing in front of the church's sign out next to the road.

The music for the service was exceptional.  Sheet music was handed out at the door so the mourners could all join in on "I'll Fly Away," a song originally penned by Albert Brumley in McDonald County, Missouri- the county just south of Newton County.  The final selection that played during the viewing of the body was a recording of "Happy Trails" by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.   The song was looped so that it played throughout the entire viewing.

When the time comes, Pa Rock would like to have both of those tunes played at his funeral service.

The service was a relaxed affair.  I probably stuck out for being in a jacket and tie, but most of the men were dressed far more casually.  The organist, in fact, a friend of Uncle Floyd's who appeared to be in his eighties, was clad in bib overalls.  If I could have shucked my jacket and tie without creating a disturbance, I would have.

Cousins were everywhere.  I visited with one whom I had not seen since I was a little boy in the mid-1950's - and another that I had last encountered at our grandfather's funeral in the same church in 1970.  Most of us were able to figure out who each other was - and one cousin and I had a serious discussion about how all of the others had aged significantly more than we had!

Today was a farewell to Uncle Floyd and it was a good one.  Floyd Sreaves was a nice guy and a good person.  I will miss him.

1 comment:

JP said...

Thanks so much, Rocky. I couldn't be there today and very much appreciate your post. It sounds like a most fitting send-off for our dear Uncle Floyd. Thanks for sharing.