My father chose to be cremated, as his religious tradition allows. A neighbor who is also a woodworker built the box in which Daddy will be buried, out of a stash of sinker cypress that had been excavated out of the Fancy Point swamp, where Daddy used to hunt. Because he will be interred on Friday in a small box, it was possible for us to dig his grave ourselves. This we did early this morning.

Above, an image of my two sons digging their Pawpaw’s grave, which is next to his father Murphy Sr. and mother Lorena. But they weren’t the only ones there. Old family friends from Starhill came and took their turn with the shovel and a posthole digger. With a hole as narrow as this one had to be, it wasn’t long before the posthole digger was the only useful tool left. Ever tried digging a three-foot deep hole with a posthole digger? It’s like plucking peas out of an iced tea glass with chopsticks.

Here are my boys and Steve “Big Show” Shelton, whom many of you will remember from Little Way. Oh, and there is Brutus, Ronnie Morgan’s little dog, who spent many a morning on the front porch with Daddy:

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Mike Leming fashioned a metal cross yesterday to stand on Daddy’s grave, at least until we place a headstone. After we finished digging the hole, Mike placed the cross at its head:

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This is a rich life we have here. All these men who loved my father, there preparing his place of final rest. Who gets to do that anymore? It’s like we live in a Wendell Berry story. We were all so tired, and the hole was just under three feet. It was suggested that this was good enough.

“Now, you know what Ray Dreher would say if he was here,” said John Bickham. “He would tell us to keep at it, because it has to be exactly three feet.”

Everybody laughed, and kept at it till we got the job just right.

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