Letter From Minnesota

Letter From Minnesota
CORRESPONDENCE\r\nLetter From\r\nMinnesota\r\nby Mark Fellows\r\nA Winter's Tale\r\nThe funeral home looked better on the\r\noutside. The solid, dignified impression\r\ngiven by the white pillars standing guard\r\noutside the large double doors disappeared\r\nwhen you stepped inside and\r\nwalked on old carpeting into a dimly lit\r\nroom with dark wood paneling. Across\r\nthe room were a pair of lime-green armchairs\r\nembosse^l with tarnished silver\r\nstuds. One of the chairs held an old\r\nguy—probably the custodian. He was up\r\nfor some company, and I wasn't in a hurry.\r\nHe brought out hot, strong coffee. I\r\ngulped down as much as I could without\r\nscalding myself, hoping the warmth\r\nwould raise my body temperature.\r\nUp in northern Minnesota, he told\r\nme, they bury the dead in vaults above\r\nground during the winter, Down here in\r\ntropical St. Paul, however, everyone goes\r\nunderground. "Backhoes, power hammers,\r\nwhatever it takes," he said cheerfully,\r\nexplaining that, after machines\r\npierced the frost line, winter gravedigging\r\noffered no special challenges.\r\n"Arc you the pastor?" he asked, nodding\r\nat the thick black book I held in the\r\nhand tiiat wasn't holding the coffee. I\r\nshook mv head. "I was his social worker."\r\nHe nodded again: "Nice of you to come."\r\nHe handed me a 2001 calendar card that,\r\nright under the funeral chapel's name\r\nand the American flag, listed him as the\r\ndirector. We talked a while longer, then\r\nhe excused...

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