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Harris Blackwood: Singing the Cochrans home
Hall County family celebrated in song
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

The Cochran family of North Hall County is known far and wide. They are kin to a lot of folks in the region and friends to many more. They were and are a musical bunch.

Perino Cochran, who died one year ago this week, was an accomplished piano player. He could “tickle the ivories,” as is often said of those with prowess at the piano.

This week, we said goodbye to his brother, George, who was a mighty-fine bass singer.

Musical people often have and deserve a musical send-off; George and Perino were no exception. They sang a lot of great gospel songs at Perino Cochran’s service. The preaching was fine, but the music was like a wonderful dessert to celebrate a life well lived. By the way, he lived to be 96 and lived with his wife, Mary, in their home until the last few months of his life.

George, who was 90, was a Renaissance man. He could do about anything with his hands. He liked to tinker with cars; he could build houses and such, and was a pretty good cook -- known especially his famous cornbread.

Mildred Carpenter, a longtime friend of the Cochrans, provided the musical prelude for the service.

Mildred has been playing for funerals since she was 8-years-old. She played for well longer than a half hour without a single sheet of music in front of her. She can take familiar hymns and give them an almost celestial sound. It is a gentle reminder that she is playing for the memorial for someone who has finished this portion of life and the arrangement, which she composes in her head, is befitting such a time.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not maudlin or funereal (I love to use that word). It is a sound that offers hope. She occasionally will end a portion of a song with a minor chord and then resolve it into a major. It’s a way of saying we are sad for a moment, but we celebrate for the person who is now in heaven.

Brent Cochran, Perino’s son and George’s nephew, also played and sang at the service.

Brent may have gotten an extra measure of the Cochran musical skills. He is an accomplished pianist and singer. He sang “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” like I haven’t heard in a long time. It made me smile and in my mind’s eye, I could see old George just beaming.

Bruce Fields of First Baptist Church offered a wonderful eulogy about gardens. You see, George was quite a gardener and loved sharing the bounty of his harvest with friends and family.

Bruce talked about the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane and the heavenly garden described in Revelation.

Back in the days when we would have summer revival meetings, the guest speaker would often have the congregation sing verse after verse of “Just As I Am, Without One Plea.” When we ran out of verses, we just started over.

A friend of mine use to call that “Sing them into the Kingdom,” because it went on and on and on.

George and Perino Cochran lived the kind of lives that you didn’t need to sing them into the Kingdom. They were already there before the service started.

But the beautiful music gave the rest of us a glimpse of what’s to come.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear Sundays.

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