Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Funeral Dress

I have to say that though I'm not a Southerner I could still identify with this book by Susan Gregg Gilmore because I have lived that small town life.   I grew up in a town with a population that in 2010 was only 1,545.  Yes, quite small.

We had one Sugar Creek at the top of the road and one small gas and grocery at the other end of the street with miles of road in between the two stores.   Street lights were found only in the village and when it got dark it was dark but I still felt safe walking in the middle of the night.

I've walked seven miles to school without getting mugged.  I've gone to the local farm stand two streets up, not blocks mind you, and got some local grown, before the term "organic" was used, produce.

Small town life was wonderful in that I knew almost everyone in my community.  I would ride the bus to school knowing that at least a few of my cousins were on the same bus as me and could be counted as friends.

But there was the dark side to small town life.  If one didn't conform to what was expected of one the small town could be suffocating.  Everyone was in your business.   Everyone wanted to have a say in what you were doing.  More times than I care to remember my father would remind me to keep my mouth shut about what happened behind our front door.  It was no one's business what we did he'd tell me.

Sometimes a small town will turn its back on you when you need it most unless you are a chance for them to redeem themselves and prove that they are better than you.  Yes, I'm talking about charity.  For some folks accepting charity comes with swords that have to be swallowed.  It is like taking money from a friend that says I'll lend it to you but then it has so many conditions with that lending you'd rather not take it all.  The lender always wants something in return, be it interest, an award from the community for being the best person to lend a hand,or quite possibly your child in the case of this book.

True kindness is a gift.  It isn't charity in which someone usually walks away feeling like they've just changed your life for the better while the other party walks away feeling guilty because they had a need they couldn't take care of on their own.  Some small towns really do take care of their own with true gifts of kindness but it is rare.  Gone are the days of Mayberry.

No one has ever entrusted impoverished Emmalee with anything important but she takes it upon herself to sew her mentor’s resting garment in The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore. Join From Left to Write on September 15 as we discuss The Funeral Dress.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


  1. I grew up in a small town, but not that small. I never felt like our family quite fit in.

  2. I agree with your sentiments about small town living, and I grew up in one. It was just a life I couldn't get on board with. Maybe that is because a few of my family members gave us all a bad name, or maybe it is because I didn't want to be known as so and so's daughter or sister. I love my just outside the city suburb life. I know a good amount of people in my town, but not everyone and not everyone knows me.

  3. I live in a small town too, and I agree it's completely a mixed blessing. So many good things about it, and yet there are some downsides too.


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