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I stand too close to the edges of curbs. Sometimes, I stand so absent-mindedly and perilously close that a slight nudge, misplaced step, or strong gust of wind could lean me into traffic. The “whoosh” and hot air of a passing vehicle startles me out of my carelessness. Yes yes

Yes

Yes

That’s also when my Uncle Clarence’s voice pulls me back.

Yes

Yes

Clarence Thompson was the oldest of my mother’s siblings. I grew up in the same house in which they were raised, on San Antonio’s East Side. During my first 12 years, he was still living there and was the most constant male presence in my life.

More… “Voices”

Cary Clack is a native of San Antonio. He wrote CNN commentaries for Coretta Scott King prior to becoming a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. He subsequently turned to politics, working as the communications director for Joaquin Castro’s Congressional campaign and Mayor Ivy Taylor. Trinity University Press published a collection of his columns, Clowns and Rats Scare Me, and is currently working on another book Dreaming US: Where did We from There? He was inducted into the Texas institute of Letters in April 2017.

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In her 1928 Blue Book of Social Usage, Emily Post wrote:

At no time are we so indifferent to the social world and all its code as when we stand baffled and alone at the brink of unfathomable darkness into which our loved one has gone. The last resource to which we would look for comfort at such a time is the seeming artificiality of etiquette. Yet it is in the hours of deepest sorrow that etiquette performs its most real service. All set rules of social procedure have for their object the smoothing of personal contacts, and in nothing is smoothness so necessary as in observing the solemn rites accorded to our dead.

Etiquette in America has always been slippery. And so it’s been with regard to mourning. The Pilgrims kept mourning on the DL. A fussy public burial was seen an affront to God’s will, as was mourning… More…