Grahams' burial site becomes family battlefield | ajc.com
Grahams' burial site becomes family battlefield | ajc.com: "It is a struggle worthy of the Old Testament, pitting brother against brother, son against mother, and leaving the famous father, the Rev. Billy Graham, trapped in the middle, pondering what to do.
Retired and almost blind at 88, the evangelist is sitting in his modest log house on an isolated mountaintop in western North Carolina and listening to a family friend describe where Franklin Graham, heir to his father's worldwide ministry, wants to bury his parents.
Billy's wife, Ruth Bell Graham, is listening too, curled up in a hospital bed on this bleak November evening. At 86 and 100 pounds, she suffers from degeneration of the spine, which keeps her in constant pain. On her left sits her younger son, Ned, 48, who has taken care of her and Billy for almost four years, and Ned's wife, Christina.
At this moment, everyone's attention is on the visitor, crime novelist Patricia Cornwell, who is talking about a memorial 'library' that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, headed by Franklin, is building in Charlotte. Cornwell toured the building site and saw the proposed burial plot. She was asked by Ned, who opposes Franklin's choice, to come and give his father her impression.
'I was horrified by what I saw,' she tells Billy, in the presence of a reporter invited to be there.
The building, designed in part by consultants who used to work for the Walt Disney Co., is not a library, she says, but a large barn and silo —- a reminder of Billy Graham's early childhood on a dairy farm near Charlotte. Once it's completed in the spring, visitors will pass through a 40-foot-high glass entry cut in the shape of a cross and be greeted by a mechanical talking cow. They will follow a path of straw through rooms full of multimedia exhibits. At the end of the tour, they will be pointed toward a stone walk, also in the shape of a cross, that leads to a garden where the bodies of Billy and Ruth Graham could lie."