Renowned film director William Greaves died in his Manhattan apartment while I was on my way to meet with his wife Louise to complete funeral arrangements. When she greeted me at the door and told me Bill had just died, I hugged her and slowly went inside. He was as dignified and elegant in death as he had been in life, and it was Louise's ultimate request, after we sat and talked awhile, to spend one additional night with Bill's slender body in the apartment with her, in the company of her daughter and brother-in-law there to keep vigil. When I returned the next morning with a colleague, our rolling cot and a van to make the transfer, Louise was more ready to say goodbye, and expressed to us the kind of gracious appreciation that makes being a funeral director truly worthwhile.  We met at Green-Wood's Crematory chapels one day later to decorate William's simple casket in poetry and love notes. A memorial service with film clips and friends followed in Manhattan several months later at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.--Amy Cunningham

Amy CunninghamComment