Tuesday, September 29, 2020


''B.C.,'' (Before coronavirus) funerals for Norman and Walker families were attended by crowds of relatives and friends flying and driving in from all over the country. Funeral motorcades were counted in the hundreds, with escorting motorcycle cops clearing intersections and red lights. When my father, Eugene Norman, passed away in 1985, I was allowed to attend the funeral in Tampa, accompanied by two well-paid deputies who nervously watched as I hugged and greeted dozens of relatives I hadn't seen in years, and many I'd never see again.

Those days are no more. My dear mother, Lucille Norman, was laid to rest this past Friday, September 27, 2020, at Sunset Memory Gardens east of Tampa. with a few dozen family members and longtime friends attending, a big crowd in these pandemic times. Virtually every one was someone my mother would have been glad to be there to send her off to her just rewards.

A few months ago, before Mama fell and was hospitalized, leading to her decline and eventual death, we talked on the phone once or twice a week. I knew that one day, our phone call would be the last one, and I would always keep positive, cheering her up when she was down, and telling her I loved and missed her at the end of every call. In turn, she would cheer me up, telling me that every day she prayed for Libby and me, and that she was determined to see me freed.

One time she was talking about her upcoming 91st birthday, saying that she didn't want Libby and me to spend money on birthday presents for her, that Libby worked hard, ad needed her money. I told her, ''Mama, Libby will be sending you presents for your100th birthday, and trying to stop her is a waste of time.''

She said, ''Son, I don't want to live to be 100. I don't want to outlive the ones I love. I still haven't gotten over losing Tom (her youngest son). I don't want to bury my children. I've had a good, long life.''

I can understand that.

Of course, I couldn't attend. To hire deputy escorts from Daytona Beach to Tampa and back would have cost thousands. But I did talk to my dear aunt, Alice Walker, and my brother, Dan, on the phone, who told me all about it.

My mother dearly loved flowers, and people sent plenty, florists still delivering arrangements after the funeral was over. Mrs. Dorman and her daughter, long-time family friends, were there, having had their own trying times losing loved ones. All the Tampa Normans, of course — four of the six pallbearers were Mama's grandsons, Tim, Tommy, John and Joe, with two friends helping.

The ladies at the church Tommy Norman attends provided food for everyone after the service, which was much-appreciated. The kindness of strangers.

Alice told me she missed her big sister terribly, that she so wanted to talk to her. I told Alice I missed Mama's laugh. I grew up hearing my mother's distinctive laughter at something my father did or said, always signalling everything was right in our world.

Everyone says she is in a better place. I pray that is so. She was an extraordinary woman, and is sorely missed by us all.

Charlie Norman


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