Ramona filed the latest report and stared out the window, remembering. She had attended the funeral of Charlotte Woods. The deceased woman had descended from a long line of southern businessmen and philanthropists. Her father, Benjamin Carlton Woods, had rebuilt the local town hall and added a new cancer wing to the Regional Hospital. It was sadly ironic that his only child, Charlotte, would later die in a cancer wing bearing the family name. But, Mr. Woods, a young widower, had himself been killed the previous year and, thus, was spared learning his daughter’s ultimate fate.
The funeral service for Charlotte had been held in the local Baptist Church and was attended by civic dignitaries, politicians, businessmen and even the State Senator. Spunky Sue had attended with her son, Judge Titus and his wife Ruth Ellen. The flowers and wreaths had borne inspiring messages befitting a Southern Belle. The Women’s Guild, God’s Little Helpers as they are known, had baked, and prepared pretty triangular sandwiches for the afternoon tea that had followed in the church basement.
The eloquent sermon had been delivered by the Rev. Walter Jefferson.
The Reverend had praised Miss Charlotte Woods for the many good works she had done in the name of the Lord. He had scrupulously avoided commenting on her weekly church attendance. In truth, Charley had avoided Walter and his church as if it had been infested with plague-carrying rats! Instead, he had spoken about the tragedy of her short-lived marriage, lamenting her husband’s untimely death in a hunting accident. Charlotte, he intoned, had always cherished the memory of her husband and had never married again. She had exemplified widowhood by living a chaste and holy life.
By the time the Reverend had finished his sermon, Charley had been elevated to a level close to sainthood! This fine woman was the embodiment of a Southern Belle: good-breeding, sophistication, a fine education and gentle manners. Young ladies present at that gathering, he had suggested, would do well to model themselves after Miss Charlotte Woods. Feeling quite smug about his oratorical performance, Reverend Jefferson had then introduced Mrs. Suzanne Gresham to give a personal eulogy for her lifelong friend. Judge Titus had looked nervous, and reached for his wife’s hand, as his mother had walked towards the lectern.
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