Joe and Miss Eda were a sweet little couple. They
lived in our neighborhood and went to our church. They could often
be found in their yard, Joe mowing the lawn or tinkering with his mower,
washing windows, trimming shrubs, raking leaves; Miss Eda shaking out rugs,
sweeping the porch, hanging out laundry, taking laundry off the line. They were
very friendly, always smiling and waving as we drove past their neat little house.
And then one day, without warning, Joe jumped into
his car, raced down the highway, zigzagged across the grounds of Mississippi
Baptist Church, plowed through the cemetery and down into the woods where he
hit a big Oak tree.
How do I know? Well, Maw Maw Wilson and I saw the car, bumper still resting
against the tree, on our way to pull weeds from Paw Paw's grave.
"Why is Joe's car down there?" I said.
"He had a little accident," said Maw Maw.
I stared at the car, a very old, dusty convertible. There was a huge sack propped up like a passenger in the back seat, and I thought it was a sack of salt. I was
fascinated. But a little scared. It reminded me of a story our Sunday School
teacher had told us about God ordering Lot's wife not to look back at a city. If
she did, she would be turned into a pillar of salt. Well, she looked. And she
was turned into a pillar of salt.
I thought Joe had looked at something he shouldn't, and he had been
turned into a sack of salt. And he would always be there. In the back seat of
his old convertible.
I don't know why I didn't voice my concerns to Maw Maw. Maybe I didn't know how
to put it into words. I was very young at the time, maybe three or four years
I have visited the cemetery many times in the years
since, and sooner or later I find myself gazing beyond my grandparents' graves
and down into the woods, seeing that old convertible again, bumper still
resting against the big Oak tree, Joe trapped forever in a sack of salt.