Going to the little cemetery where Dad is buried, located about a mile downstream from where I was raised, was sort of hard for me the first few years after his passing. Now that nearly 30 years have passed, and my own stone lies next to his, awaiting my permanent arrival, I’m not filled with the loss that I once felt. In fact, as wicked as this old world is getting, and knowing to some degree who and what awaits me, I almost look forward to the day that I can join him, and many others whose earthly remains lie here in what some might call “God’s Half-Acre.”
I put a flag on his grave, since that was the reason for the visit. He didn’t have to give his life in the big war that took so many of his friends and neighbors. He was one of the lucky ones; he came home after the war was over. I’m thankful he did, or I wouldn’t be here, but I wish I’d asked him more questions.
Even though I don’t feel despondent over the fact that his body lies here, and his parents, who I remember, lay next to him, a sort of sadness still makes itself known to me. Some folks would understand, but many would not. I stroll around the cemetery, reading the names and dates inscribed for those lucky enough to have a stone. Some stones show evidence of being visited within the last few months or days. Some look pretty much forgotten. There is the sad part of the experience, that so many are forgotten. Some of the folks whose lives these stones represent are spending their eternity with their saved loved ones and the one we call “Jesus.” No-one should wish them back. Others are probably spending an eternity of unfathomable suffering, but I hope very few. Still, many of both are now forgotten.
Sometimes I think it’s a curse to be both a sentimentalist and a history buff. Reading the names of relatives, neighbors and acquaintances who have gone on before me, I realize how little I know about some of them. Other names are simply names that I heard in the conversations of the people who now lie here. Some names I haven’t even heard of. Yet each name represents a life; and each life had a story, perhaps MANY stories. For most, though, those stories are forever lost, unless someone writes them down and finds a way to pass them along. Most stories die with the person. The rest die with the children and grandchildren, if there were any. Except for knowing that a few folks here are suffering torment, the loss of those stories strikes me as the greatest source of sadness here. I wish I could have heard all their stories. I wish you could have heard them, too.
Talk to the old folks while you can. They won’t be here much longer, nor will we, so tell your story to someone. Maybe they’ll pass it on. © 2014