I’m not a spiritual person or a religious person. Blind faith in anything has never held much appeal for me. The two biggest losses in my life were losing my parents a few years apart. They were the gorilla glue that held it all together, and with them gone sometimes it feels like we’re all just using scotch tape down here. There are still nights when a part of my brain wants to pick up the phone and hear those voices…..quiet and reserved and oh so wise. I was the youngest of 6 so it was pretty hard to throw a new wrench at them. Not that I didn’t try. They always knew what to say. And just as importantly, they always knew what not to say.
They’re laid to rest together…….in a beautiful spot…..up on a little ridge, surrounded by majestic trees, tucked away in a quiet corner of a well maintained cemetery about 30 minutes from home. We can only have one way conversations now, but when I want to dive deep I like to do it there. Onsite as it were. I’ll bring a folding chair. They feel closer when I’m there than when I am here, and that doesn’t go hand in hand with what I believe in, and I don’t know what this means other than faith is low hanging fruit, and sometimes we’re all a bit peckish.
Interesting place….this cemetery. Filled with captains and commoners, huge marble edifices and simple plates in the ground that require a good shoe to kick away the grassy edges to read in full. Civil War congressional medal of honor winners sit within spitting distance of fresh 2020 sod. Flags are endless, testament to our wars, and the dying they brought on. Fresh flowers abound, testament to the grieving that gets easier, but never goes away.
Seemingly everywhere I go in this world, there’s always somebody acting like an asshole. Loud. Obnoxious. Inappropriate. But never here. Ironic. Nobody is here. But everybody acts like they’re being watched.
My parents are surrounded by family. My Mom’s parents and siblings, each of whom could carry a novel, are a few paces away. War heroes and rogues, saints and sinners…..lives of quiet triumph and tragedy….known to nobody except those who share the same blood. What a crew they were. My mom was 1 of 13, growing up in a small house with a single bathroom, with brothers (and sisters come to think of it) one didn’t trifle with. And here comes my Dad…..gawky and poor with holes in his pants but relentlessly smitten, winning them all over with his no frills niceness and a quiet tenacity. My Mom was his only love. And he was hers. Don’t tell me you can’t die from a broken heart, because I saw it happen….my Mom sat in a chair waiting to see him again, and grew so confused and anxious her blood got too tired to flow anymore.
During winters like this I can’t get there…..and that bothers me as much as the relentless snow and ice we’ve been battered with. As pretty and idyllic a place as it is when the green takes over…..it’s desolate and wind-swept and cheerless now. There’s no place to park my chair for one thing, and the snow is knee deep. I’ve got lots to say, but nobody to say it to. Usually it’s mid-March when I get there again…..Scranton Parade time means different things to different people, but it’s always a line in the sand that folks around here understand. It means spring…or at least the promise of it. And besides, is there a easier place to be socially distant than the graveyard?
I miss them, but I’m glad they’re gone. I’m glad they missed Covid-19 and the wreckage of the last 4 years. I’m glad that Alzheimer’s can’t have her way with either of them anymore. They deserved better than so much of what this world threw at them, but they never wavered. And they never broke. When I listened to them, I became a better man. When I ignored them, I regressed.
Graveyards scare a lot of folks. Evil lurks and all that. Bad movies galore. Which is horseshit because nothing evil lurks there. WE lurk there because the circle is never closed. There’s always that thing that we wished we said, and somehow it feels better finally saying it in front of the names and the dates and the fresh flowers, with the gentle breeze topping off that gentle ridge like a cherry on a Sundae.
I’ll talk to you soon Mom and Dad.
In a bit..
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