A Passing Story


James Kirk Wilde, 84, of Parkesburg, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 27.

The Wildes buried the Hope-Copelands. The Wildes were five generations of men who owned a family funeral home. The Hope-Copelands were ten generations of my family. In all my life, when you got dead, you got buried by the Wildes.

The last family funeral I went to was my Uncle Dick. He had been a farmer, a church deacon, a school teacher, a justice of the peace and several other things. A good man, kind and with a big heart and a big sense of fun. At the end of the funeral everybody had a chance to say a piece. And at the very end, politely waiting for everyone else to finish, a young man stood up in the church balcony. He was the youngest generation of the Wildes, another Jim by name.

Jim spoke of Uncle Dick’s way of always carrying candy in his pocket and slipping it into the hands of the worthy or worried as he passed them by. Jim said that at his wedding, as he and his bride recessed down the aisle past Dick, Dick reached out and slipped a roll of lifesavers into Jim’s pocket—“Good luck, have a good life.”

And so, said Jim, as he’d laid out Dick Copeland the previous night, before he closed the casket he slipped a roll of lifesavers into Dick’s pocket.

Goodbye, and good luck.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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