An Inseparable Couple, Even at the Tragic End
Sunday, June 4, 2006
Two walnut coffins formed a V in the funeral home's front parlor. Inside one was Timothy Hohner. Inside the other was his wife, Cynthia. At a spot where one corner of each casket nearly kissed were two intertwined hearts made of flowers. One was white, the other red.
Tim and Cindy, both 47, met while in high school, and from that day on they were seldom apart. Cindy grew up in Arlington and Tim in Falls Church. They met at a bowling alley in Ballston. Tim's father was Cindy's bowling coach. Cindy was 18 and Tim a month shy of 18 when they married in 1977.
"Tim and Cindy became one word," Cindy's brother, Roger Pol, said at the funeral. "They were together all the time. They were together night and day."
So many flowers were sent to the Arlington funeral home that there simply wasn't room to display them all. There was an overflow crowd.
A low murmur filled the room as people waited for the service. Faintly at first and then, as the mourners quieted themselves, more clearly, music could be heard. "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd was being piped into the room, continuing for a good while until the Catholic priest began.
"Tim and Cindy were unique," he said. "Even the service is unique. I have never heard Lynyrd Skynyrd played at a funeral before."
Everyone laughed. That's the way the couple's two grown daughters wanted it. "I was told to make people happy and not to make people cry," Pol said when it was his turn to speak.
This story begins in a funeral home, but it is not about death. It is about life and the love two people shared, a love so strong that although their deaths were shocking and unexpected, the fact that they died together comforted those they left behind.
* * *
Last week, a few days after the funeral, Beckie Lee Conroy, the youngest of the Hohners' daughters, was sitting in a big overstuffed chair in her parents' living room. It was her father's chair. That's where Tim sat first thing every night after work while Cindy pulled his boots off. It was a routine that began soon after they married -- he was in construction, and he'd be too sore and tired after work to get his boots off. It continued throughout the marriage.
"As much as it hurts to have lost both my parents together at the same time, they were together, and that's how they always were," Conroy said. "It is just totally fitting that's how it ended. It brings me peace that neither one of them has to be alone without the other, because I don't know how well that would have gone."
They didn't have much when they first got married. They rented a house just off Lee Highway, not far from Tim's parents on Rosemary Lane.