I am sure there are an assortment of good reasons as to why people attend funerals. Personally, there are a handful of reasons why I have.

I am sure there are an assortment of good reasons as to why people attend funerals. Personally, there are a handful of reasons why I have.

It is a final opportunity to pay my respects to someone I had known and who had touched my life in a positive way. However, waiting until a person is in a coffin to say that he or she was special is an example of poor timing. But I must confess I have committed that sin.

It is a chance to express condolences to grieving family members. But passing through a reception line, shaking the hand of or hugging someone I may not have ever met until that moment, then looking into their tear-filled eyes while mumbling something to the effect of, "I am sorry for your loss," has never felt like I hit the mark regarding what I had hoped to convey.

I have gone to funerals to provide support for a family member who had lost a loved one. Whether that has taken the form of providing a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or to act as a Kleenex dispenser, I have not minded.

With all that having been said I honestly could not find a good reason to get up on a Saturday morning a couple of weekends ago and go to the graveside service of a deceased aunt. I would not have even known of my Aunt Sylvia's passing were it not for my sister, Jane.

I had not thought of, let alone seen, Aunt Sylvia since I was a youngster, so there was no close bond that had been broken. Neither had I been close to Sylvia's son and my cousin, Curt, growing up so not having seen him in half a century had not filled my heart with grief.

The only halfway decent reason for attending, according to my wife, Nancy, was that I would get to spend a little time with Jane.

Because I had absolutely no desire to drive from Hannibal to Joplin for my aunt's funeral service on Friday, I reluctantly agreed to attend the graveside service Saturday at a cemetery outside of Jefferson City.

Fortunately our directions to the rural cemetery were spot on and we found it without incident. How out in the country was the graveyard? The sound of nearby cattle mooing could be distinctly heard with the car engine running and the windows up.

It turned out to be a picture-perfect postcard example of a March day - low clouds, cool temperature and blustery. I was thankful that unlike the pallbearers, who were all clad in suits, I was wearing a winter coat, gloves and a stocking cap. Fortunately the chaplain presiding over the service in the wind-swept cemetery kept his remarks short.

Following the service Nancy and I walked through the cemetery where we saw numerous Henley headstones. But it wasn't the grave sites of deceased family members that caused me the most anxiety, it was the prospect of encountering living cousins I had not been with for decades.

Were it not for my sister handling introductions I would have never recognized any of my cousins in attendance - James, Robert and Kenneth.

"Didn't we call you 'Froggy?'" inquired one of my cousins. (Don't ask.)

Cousin Kenny, upon learning my identity, threw his arms around me and gave me a hug.

I don't know what sort of reception I had expected from my cousins, but it was far warmer than I had anticipated receiving on that chilly March day.

As Nancy and I headed home to Twainland that afternoon I couldn't help but feel that as far as funerals go it'd been a pretty decent day.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.