Sports fans, you don't want to read this column

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BRAD SPENCER

From the editor
Nothing, zip. Empty bucket. Drained pool. Barren desert. Vacant lot. I'm blank. I have nothing interesting in my head today. I want to type the word "plunger" for some reason, so I just did. I'm desperate for someone or something to fill this silo above my eyes and between my ears.

Silo. Now, why would I use that word? Downstate, in a don't-blink town called Cooksville, there are grain silos. There isn't much else in the town except a tavern and a gas station my grandpa owned and ran for nearly 50 years-he also owned the tavern at one time, too. His recent death and funeral may be to blame for my writer's block. Lucky for you. But these are just a few of the words swiveling around in my mind right now: Life, Purple Heart, dog tags, family, friends, death.

So move on, turn the page, go online and read about spider monkeys mating with Chihuahuas. I don't care. I'm using the rest of this column space to write about a small-town funeral.

During the visitation, there was a line that stretched clear out to the street. As a coping mechanism I tend to think silly things. It was apparent to me at that moment that every house in Cooksville was vacant-a perfect time to make it Crooksville. But the silly thoughts were few on this day.

Of course every funeral is emotional, but this one seemed to draw tears frequently. The site of the flag-draped coffin. Tears. Grandpa's only great-grandson, Kyle, 9, wrote him a goodbye letter. Tears. To begin the funeral's ceremony, his fellow war veterans saluted him one at a time. Tears. The minister told a heart-wrenching story about Grandpa's time fighting in World War II. Tears. His great-granddaughters, Abigail and Sarah, both 4, stood in the driveway of his big red house, waving goodbye as the funeral procession passed by. Tears. The motorcade then used the gas station, now owned by my uncle Terry, as a roundabout and proceeded out to a quaint cemetery nestled in the country between cornfields. Tears. The M-1 rifle, bayonet and all, stuck in the ground with helmet atop next to the casket. Tears. A war veteran reciting the farewell speech for a fellow soldier. Tears. Five-gun salute. Tears. Two shots. Tears, tears. The folding of the flag by two war veterans. Tears. The handing of the flag to Kyle, who sat next to my Grandma. Tears. A 90-year-old veteran telling 9-year-old Kyle what the flag represented. A whole flood of tears.

Still reading? Then you may be asking yourself, "Isn't this column supposed to be about Oak Park and/or River Forest?"

Well, I live in Oak Park.

And you also may be asking yourself, "But isn't this supposed to be a sports-related column?"

To help ease our sorrow, the entire Spencer family played a rambunctious game of wiffleball one evening, and my 83-year-old Grandma had two hits. And there were no tears.

CONTACT:bspencer@wjinc.com

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