As printed in the obituary which appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on December 12, 2005: she is survived by her daughter, Allene Cornelius of Atlanta; 4 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren; 1 great great grandchild; a brother, Lee Pittman of Dawsonville; a sister, Marie Walston of Atlanta; and several nieces and nephews.
She was buried in Crestlawn Memorial Park, next to her late husband, Garnett, who died in 1976. The Rev. Keith Willard, a distant cousin, officiated, and in addition to suggesting that when he saw her on Sundays she looked as if she had stepped right out of the Sears Roebuck catalog--you should read that as a major compliment, which is how it was intended--he managed to include some sentences that I wrote about her in an essay a few years ago: about her kindness, about how easily she fit inside my arms. My friend Foster and I agreed that what was left out was that she made the best carrot cake in the history of the world. And that she hated her middle name, Beatrice, which, for some reason, everyone pronounced Be-AT-trice.
I know too much about death lately. Everyone will be able to say that at some point; most already can. But this one is okay. She lived an enviable life, in some sense: full of family, food so good it borders on sin, and a peaceful way about her that more people should emulate. (This is not including the time she began shooting squirrels in her living room with her BB gun, but that's beside the point.)
It's true that people never leave you as long as you don't forget them. I wrote about her briefly in my first novel, Yield, having given one of my own memories to my narrator, Simon:
"I sit down on the couch, pick up a ceramic figurine off the side table, a little elephant with the trunk raised. It looks fifties-ish, like those accessories that were at one time fashionable and perhaps indicated some status. I used to see that stuff in my great-grandmother’s house—a delicate feminine hand holding a pinkish, glossy conch shell, turned up, its open end to the ceiling. She kept rosy-colored emery boards in it. Then, in her bedroom on the make-up table, she had a strange box, one green and one red light bulb in the base, directed up to three tiger-striped clam shells. The center shell held a crucifixion, the bleeding Jesus near-naked and tiny. I’m not sure what forces this memory to surface—maybe the stillness of this room. Could be anything, really."