When my mother died early on a spring evening in 1993, the ladies of the garden club and the bridge club gathered around my family to stand sentinel over the old-fashioned ritual of paying calls on the bereaved.
When she knew she was dying, my grandmother took me to see the cornerstone of a small brick church in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. I didn’t recognize the sign outside. It was a Baptist church, I think. It was pretty rundown, but still in better shape than the neighborhood. Overgrown vacant lots were everywhere; it was like visiting an abandoned church in the jungle.