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"Stop crying, you're driving!": What I love about Effingham drivers

POSTED: April 16, 2017 8:41 p.m.

Okay so no one really loves funerals.

But, what I have seen in Effingham County warms my heart and makes me proud to live here and have raised my kids here.

In many communities, funeral processions seem to be almost a nuisance. Other drivers can sometimes try to speed up or pretend to slow down when encountering one. But, as soon as possible, they quickly jump right back in as if the whole thing was just an annoyance.

I have even seen drivers who were not part of a funeral procession join in at the end to get a leg up on those who pulled over or slowed down.

But, I never see that in Effingham County.

The law on encountering funeral processions is not widely known. Georgia code 40-6-76 says funeral processions have the right of way at intersections. Of course, you knew that.

In addition, you cannot interrupt a funeral procession in any way or attempt to pass one on a two lane road.

That’s it. Nothing more.

What about a divided highway, like parts of Highway 21? You do not need to pull over or stop.

But, you do. And here’s why.

Something inside you tells you it is right to do so. And things that are right are important in Effingham.

Something inside you tells you that it is reverent to take 60 seconds out of your day in order to show respect for your neighbor who has lost a loved one.

Something inside you tells you that people are in pain, and that because of that grief a momentary “vehicular bowing of the head” is warranted.

A life has been lost. People are grieving. We all know what that feels like. But in Effingham, more than in any community I have ever seen, we stop. We pause. And as the procession drives by, more than a few of us say a prayer for those who are grieving.

Have you noticed our deputies when they direct traffic? They stand by their vehicles, hats off, faces solemn, and hands reverentially behind their back as if they are guarding something of extreme value. You won’t find that in Atlanta.

I can tell you for a fact that, even though your small act may seem like it would go unnoticed, it certainly does not.

Last Friday, when I arrived at a burial site to commend a friend to God’s care, the deceased’s daughter came up to me and said, “We almost didn’t make it!”

I asked what happened. Her daughter (the deceased’s granddaughter), in her late 20’s, was driving the two of them to the cemetery, when her daughter burst out in tears.

“What’s wrong?” the mother asked.

The daughter said, through her tears, "Look at all these people pulling over for us. And they're all young people, Mama!" Her mom replied, "Stop crying, you're driving!"

Our stopping honors their loss and validates their pain. For that brief moment, the bruised soul is seen by others who care enough to pause, to make way for real life to be acknowledged and felt.

And that is good, which you know because that something inside you told you so.

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