Gramma always told me that I could speak better through written word. Here goes nothing… bare with me, this will be long. I need to get it off my chest.
It’s been a hard summer for me. My grandfather passed. One of my closest friends I’ve ever had passed. The woman who provided care to my son, as I struggled through full-time school & 2-3 part-time jobs as well as a custody case, passed away. There are these people who have a special place in our lives that shape us into who we are.
I struggle with trying to stay positive at times. I’ve always struggled with this.
23 years ago on this very day, (I was 12) I remember playing in the sand (where the Weaver Tavern once stood) most likely with my friends Larry, Hunter, Jonathan & Curtis.
My sister had driven down the hill and stopped to tell me she was leaving to go meet friends. I told my sister I didn’t want her to go. Prior to this, I had never had any issue of what my 16 year old sister did. For whatever reason, I pleaded with her “don’t go”.
I remember watching her little grey Chevy LUV pickup (“the little Luv truck” as we joked about it) drive away, the taillights light up as she stopped at the intersection and proceed to go out as she turned north onto Hwy 61. This would be the last moment I shared with Rose. I least I got to say goodbye.
I remember Sheriff Adams knocking on our door in the middle of the night – I recall after midnight. I ran downstairs and answered the door because our dog was barking. I didn’t want Greg or my Dad to wake up. (one of those things you never want to wake your parents up and for surely didn’t want baby brother to cry for the rest of the night) He had his hat off. He asked for my parents. I woke Dad up after all.
I remember walking back upstairs to my room. I put my ear to the ornate floor vent near the middle of the room to try to eavesdrop. I remember the door shutting. Then walked upstairs to my room as I quick jumped back onto my bed. He came in, sat down and said, “we lost Rose”. I remember feeling so much rage that I proceeded to start breaking things in my room until Dad held me back from hurting myself more. Don’t remember after that other than not sleeping. Then Dad waking Mom. And then the screams I’ll never, ever forget.
I remember standing room only at both of her services at the funeral home in Wabasha & at Community Church in Hudson.
Most of my W-K classmates/close friends and the many Hudson childhood friends know that Rose & I always spent most of our summer vacations in Hudson. It holds a special place in my heart and helped me develop into the person I am today. The love my grandparents instilled in us made it seem like paradise. At least to me it did. I felt safe at all times. Never hungry. A clean home. Always felt loved.
Now I’m not trying to get condolences or sympathy from this post, but I had a little revelation/moment/sign a month ago while in Hudson, IA for my grandfather’s funeral. It’s taken a while for me to really grasp the meaning perhaps.
The music chosen to play at the end of Grampa’s funeral was “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” (he worked for the railroad for many years) & a New Orlean’s big band jazz-style “When the Saint’s Go Marching In”. Happy music. After Grampa’s funeral, I took my wife & kids to see my grandparent’s house, a little trip through town & to go down the same rocket ship slide which I recall playing in many of summers. As we drove through town I could remember all the houses of old friends, but couldn’t remember the rest of the other childhood acquaintances names when seeing their house. It literally seemed that every other house there was a someone that you shared some sort of relationship with – friends, summer rec team, summer rec activity group, swimming lessons in Dike, church camp, etc.
After the park, we drove out to the cemetery to say “hello” to Gramma & Rose. As the local radio station played, I maneuvered through the little tire trail roads that curve through the cemetery, I eventually found their plots and stopped the truck. As we stepped out, a light sprinkle began to fall from the sky. It was a beautiful summer day leading up to this point. As I stood there, reflecting on my life & experiences with loved ones – past & present – the rain began to fall a little harder. I cleared off Rose’s headstone as it had a bunch of grass clippings on it. I could hear sniffling behind me. It was hard to breathe. I could barely swallow as my throat felt like it was closing. Although, I could feel the love around me – my family standing next to me and my loved ones looking over me. It was like their tears of joy from being reunited again – Gramma seeing Grampa and Grampa getting to see his grand-daughter again, since she was taken from us too early. It was sort of a family reunion. Like they wanted us to know it’s ok and were so happy to see us.
As we made our way back to the truck, not too much was said, which is to be expected. However, as I started the truck and radio was playing Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You”. I’m not a religious person, but it was a truly beautiful moment. We sat there in awe. Even the kids mentioned that it was weird that this song would be playing as we’re sitting in the cemetery. After listening to the song for a bit, I decided we should go. After pulling out onto the road and we headed towards the golf course that Grampa helped design, I decided that I should record this moment for me to always remember that our loved ones are always here with us, showing us in little ways they are still with us – whether obvious or not.
What’s it all really mean? Who knows. While I don’t know what may come next for me in this life of mine, I do know that the loved ones, who are no longer here with us, are ok. And that makes me feel better. Yes, there are things we can’t control, however there is a lot that we can. If it tastes good, eat it. If you can’t afford it, you probably don’t need it. Don’t dwell on the past as we can’t change it – learn from it. Hold the door for someone. Smile at people. Look at people in the eyes when talking to them. Don’t just listen to music, feel the music. Tell the ones you love that you love them as much as you can, whenever you can.
The last lines of the Desiderata, of which Gramma left a copy for me when she passed, say this: “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
If you really made it this far, thank you for listening.