VIRUS DIARY: Unfinished business of postponement of funeral

Nashville, Tennessee (AP) — Recently, at Nashville Airport, we’ve noticed that a pandemic doesn’t end at the same time for everyone. I expected tourists to come little by little, but the airport was crowded. Most people had masks, but social distance was not an issue.

I was flying to check my mother. Still, in my opinion, it will take some time for the “normal” to settle into what it will look like in the future.

There are many unfinished businesses in the world, such as graduation ceremonies and anniversaries. Airfares have risen due to stagnant demand. People travel for a variety of reasons, but many are free to move around for months, with or without vaccination.

And then there is the funeral. Failure to say goodbye directly makes closure difficult. It’s an unfinished business for my family.

His wife’s father, Bernard Francis Lions Jr., died of COVID shortly before Christmas. His life ended at a nurse company in a long-term care facility near our home. We finally talked to him in a video chat.

My wife and her sister chose not to pull the virtual monument apart. This was logistically difficult and somehow seemed inadequate. I’m convinced that we’re not the only ones who feel that a life as important as Bernie deserves, rather than being remembered as one of the more than 500,000 Americans killed by this terrible pain. ..

So later this year we will drive to his hometown of New England to honor him.

Bernie Lions is a working-class Irish-American in Rhode Island, with a PhD in Psychology and spent adulthood in Knoxville, Tennessee to heal troubled children.

He was an elaborate narrator and tended to exaggerate the achievements of those he cares about. His story became more spectacular in each story. They arose from the achievements of his two daughters, his love for opera, or the various fields of study he happened to read, from jellyfish sex life to Antarctic weather patterns.

His wife, Anne, died six years ago, and Bernie spent the last few years in Nashville for long-term care because of the loss of his memory. However, his kind personality remained, and I often saw him chatting with other residents and staff in a friendly manner. Some of the female residents were kind to him.

My wife and her sister remember Bernie most vividly on the beach in Weakapog, Rhode Island. He and Anne spent the summer at the Dune Trailer Park. The Dune Trailer Park is a humble excursion between a beach house and a resort.

The beach was a magical place for my wife’s cousin who came down every time we traveled. We bodysurfed the waves together, played touch football on the beach and had dinner under the shade next to the trailer. Bernie presided over it all and threatened us with stories, music, and laughter. From time to time, we played “Uncle Stump Bernie” and dreamed of the most ridiculous question we could ask. He always had an answer, but it wasn’t always right.

After all it feels good to be together and it is more a celebration than a memorial. At some point, perhaps at dusk, we go to the beach together.

It gets cooler in the fall, but I think Bernie and Anne’s spirits are there too. It’s hard to imagine seeing them flock to the wind-exposed guard stands, smoking, and talking quietly.

Bernie may stop for a moment when he sees us. He may even be surprised at how much we all love him. And he goes back to Anne and tells a story that may or may not be true.

Almost all of them will be what she has heard before. Still they still make her smile.


The occasionally featured virus diary introduces the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Scott Stroud is the Associated Press Appalachia News Editor based in Nashville. Follow him on Twitter at

VIRUS DIARY: Unfinished business of postponement of funeral

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