Sometimes I visit our local cemetery to think and reflect…no funeral….no genealogy research… no other reason except for putting things into perspective I suppose. I knew more than a few of those laid to rest here. My grandparents, uncles, a cousin, and a few community members. Many I’ve researched or placed in my family tree branches- Herron’s, Hobgoods, Ramsey’s, Townsend’s and more. I have even unearthed long forgotten secrets and family dramas about a couple of them written down and tucked away in a crackled file at the genealogical office.
I ate my dinner at the cemetery this evening, my dog beside me waiting for his share between bites. My grandparents’ final resting place to my left, a peaceful, somber and sad reminder that in the end we will all come to this. I miss them both…maybe even more than the years they died. My grandfather passed away when I was eleven. His was the first death that taught me the fragility and transience of our earthly lives. His death was the first where I witnessed grown adults sob. It was my earliest memory of my parent’s and grandmother crying. His untimely illness and death was the first I’d heard a grownup wail and cry aloud to God, “why?!”
Grandmother lived on another 19 years after my grandfather passed on. For the majority of those years she was independent. Her life was filled with the busyness and joy of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The ache left in my heart due to her passing away was never healed by time. As I grow older and maybe even a bit like her each year, I think of so many things I would have loved to ask. I have an even greater need for her wisdom now that I’ve passed the 50 year mark. There’s so much about her I miss: her chicken and dumplings, the pies…the way she dropped everything to spend time with me. Her family was her world. Most of all, I miss how she always had just the right thing to say to me. She got me...understood my heart in a way only a grandmother can.
I look out across the many carefully etched headstones and wonder about all those precious people now gone who left behind someone who’s still missing their smiles, their laughter… and that unique (now empty) spot in the family. Many are buried here and enough time has passed that no one is left to miss them. They’ve become names, dates, and simply entries on someone’s Tree or a file on Ancestry.com.
I suppose it’s achieving half century status that really starts one to assessing their time already spent on earth and beginning to think of ways to make the most of what might be left. Proverbial or not, it’s true how time flies.
I can’t help but wonder what will be missed about myself when I die. I’m pretty sure it won’t be my chicken and dumplings, although they’re good enough. Will it be how I made them feel special and cherished like my dearly missed grandmother did me? I hope so. What will be forgotten and what will be remembered? Will I leave a legacy of love behind? Hopefully. Will my cherished loved ones truly know how much I loved them?
“Yahweh, make me know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am.” Psalm 39:4