Chapter 50 Summary
Hoyt gets a sealed letter in the safe at the store that Grandpa told him must be read immediately upon his death. The family assembles in the bedroom. Love has cut Grandpa’s hair and put make-up on his bruises. Everyone cries but Miss Love.
The letter states that he wants to be wrapped in feed sacks and put right in the ground with no funeral. He wants to go from home to cemetery. Then he wants Loomis to preach over the grave and Will to read Bible verses. He wants Love to read a poem. Then he wants a party where everyone will tell funny stories about him. No black clothes or crying. Will says the burying was awful, but the party was fun. Love wears red, and there is a band. People tell stories about Rucker’s pranks.
At the reading of the will, Love gets half the estate for her and the child. Grandpa leaves Will college money provided he comes to the store afterward. Love decides to stay in Cold Sassy so her child will have family. She wants Will to teach her son the things he knows because he is like Rucker.
Chapter 50 Commentary
Will comments that it shows what kind of man his Grandpa was that nobody thought of questioning how he wanted to be buried: “If Grandpa wanted to keep his whisky in your closet, marry three weeks after Granny died, and be buried in feed sacks” (p. 386) no one could say no to him.
The will is a surprise. Grandpa told Love he would give her $200 on his death, but he gives her $1,000. He also gives her a share in the business, and with the birth of the child, she will have half the assets, exactly what the daughters worried about. Will says that Love did write herself into the family, for they will not reject the baby coming.
At the graveside, Will preaches on the verse “Ask and it shall be given,” explaining his Grandpa’s interpretation: “Grandpa said Jesus meant us to ask for hope, forgiveness, and all like that” (p. 385). The party is meant to bring the town and family together in reconciliation. Grandpa says in his letter that he meant Camp’s funeral to mean “Judge not,” and he wants his funeral party to mean, “death aint always awful” (p. 380). He concludes his letter with a joke. He doesn’t want anyone to put on his headstone, “Not dead, but sleeping.” He wants them to write “Dead, not sleeping” so it won’t sound like he’s buried alive.
Finally, Will objects to Grandpa trying to force him into the store through the instructions in his will. He wants to be his own man, and he has his Grandpa for an example.