Lessons learned from Granny

By By Janet McDonald / assistant news editor
June 13, 2004
Last week my family laid to rest our matriarch. My grandmother, Elaine Threatt McDonald Branning, was an extraordinary woman and as our family drew together to mourn her passing, I was reminded of the life she led.
Granny was a strong Christian woman who passed her faith and love of her Lord Jesus on to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She spent hours at the church getting the bulletins ready for Sunday morning and preparing her music to play the organ. She loved holidays, Christmas plays and Easter cantatas.
She was an educated woman who attended the University of Southern Mississippi in the 1960s when you hardly saw an adult going back to college. She excelled in school, graduating as valedictorian of her class in high school and, years later, graduating with high honors from USM.
She passed that love of learning onto her heirs. She encouraged us in school and spent time tutoring her grandchildren who needed a little extra help with their homework.
I remember when I would spend the night at Granny's house, she would invite me to look through her large collection of books to see which ones I might want to borrow.
Granny was happy when I was hired at The Meridian Star four years ago. She looked for my name in every day's edition and when we talked she would often ask if I had a byline in the paper recently.
A little respect
Granny taught her family to be courteous and respectful to other people. Saying "yes ma'am" and "yes sir" was just something you did. No questions asked. No arguments. She passed on an old-fashioned sense of treating others as you would like to be treated.
Last Thursday I couldn't help but notice how many people do not hold to that same belief system.
Granny's funeral processions began in downtown Meridian and ended at Mt. Nebo Cemetery just inside the Newton County line on Highway 19 North.
I have always thought it was only proper to stop your car for a funeral procession. There's just something about it that says, "I may not know you, but I know you're hurting and I'm sorry for your loss."
I was more than just a little irritated at the lack of respect drivers showed for my grandmother's funeral procession. Vehicles both personal and commercial drove by us.
Drove by us
When I say drove by us, I don't just mean on the other side of the four-lane highway. I mean they passed us and the hearse because they were too busy to stop and pay respect for our family's loss. One couple even cut in front of my dad's vehicle to turn left onto another road.
Out of curiosity, I called the Mississippi Highway Patrol and asked what was proper driving etiquette for a funeral procession. I was surprised to learn that the law requires vehicles to stop and observe a funeral procession if it is escorted by a law enforcement vehicle. If a funeral procession is unescorted, vehicles are not required to stop, but it is considered proper etiquette. Regardless of whether the procession is escorted, it is illegal to pass or cut into or through the cortege.
I know we live in a fast-paced world. Many of us stay so busy we hardly have time to stop and think. But I don't think it would hurt any of us to take two or three minutes to pull our vehicles to the side of the road to pay respect to a family who has lost a loved one.
One of these days it may be your family in that procession, and it may be you wishing that your fellow Americans would stop for just a minute to pay respect to your loved one.
Oh yeah, Granny I got a byline.
Janet McDonald is the assistant news editor at The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3274, or e-mail jmcdonald@themeridianstar.com.

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