We left Sarnia for the Ottawa Valley 10 years ago, so my parents grave had not been visited for a long time. Shauna took the kids back to Sarnia for a little vacation time last week, and Danica, being the sweetheart that she is, wanted to visit the grave site, and so they did.
It's a pleasant site, and I am pleased to see it again and pleased to know that Danica wanted to visit ... and JJ and Mom too of course, but I understand that Danica was the primary driver on this occasion.
I wrote a post all those years ago after my last visit, a few days before we departed for this area, way across province. I titled it, They Were Enough.
We are entering the final countdown before Monday's big move. Fortunately, we have lately been treated to a number of farewell dinners, rather a good thing considering the dearth of edibles in the fridge and our incredible disinclination of having anything that might be considered remotely intimate to do with the stove. I had put a visit to the cemetery on my mental todo list and finally got around to paying my respects this morning.
I'm have not been an avid visitor of cemeteries since I deem that nobody is really there. In fact, my dad's remains have rested there for six and a half years, and I have not really visited. I did take mum there for a quick visit once so that she could reassure herself that those responsible had dutifully added the year of dad's death on the flat and tasteful headstone. She was not a terribly trusting soul, my mother wasn't. Me? I am perhaps too trusting, too willing to assume that all will work out. It turns out, of course, that it usually does, so I was not surprised to find that mum's death date had been duly added, probably two years ago, shortly after she died.
Although I have confessed to not being an avid visitor, I must now admit to spending a very pleasant time at the graveside today. It was a wonderful summer morning; gentle cooling breezes caressed me in the shade. I sat on the grass and let my mind wander. Preferring to enjoy the quietude, I didn't try too very hard to stir up memories but let my mind wander wherever it would.
Memories that did pass across my mind were just that, memories from a long time ago: mostly from over forty years ago when I was young and my parents were much younger than I am now. I remembered walking with the folks one day and my mother bemoaning the fact that she was about to turn forty. Dad reminded her of the old saw that life begins at forty. I also remembered my mum and I once laughing hysterically at my hearing-impaired father when he responded incredulously to some comment or other that he has misheard: "You want me to weed the carpet?" Why this next memory came unbidden to my mind I don't know, but for a while we went to a very small church that was short on talent. My mother once tried to sing a solo, and her voice cracked on the high notes, but she did okay. And I remembered dad preaching a sermon from Philemon when the pastor was on holidays, and I had been proud to realize that he was quite a good preacher.
Then I thought how the wheel of time ever turns. About twenty years ago mom and dad moved here to be nearer family in their declining years. Now, I am the one moving to be nearer my kids. I am not going there to die but to live, but, of course, death comes ever closer, and one can't help but think about it. I don't think it's gruesome or macabre to ponder my death; it's just the wheel turning, always grinding relentlessly onward.
I sat there on the ground in the shade of the trees for quite some time. It was pleasant, so pleasant that I wondered about changing my own plans. I have thought to have a tree planted over my remains in some unmarked spot, but now I wonder. Perhaps I should give my kids the opportunity of visiting such a peaceful spot, a place where they can think and, perhaps, remember. We are not there, where we are buried, but it marks a spot where there is nothing for the visitor to do but rest and remember, and that is not such a bad thing. But in the end, I'll probably still opt for for an isolated unmarked site and ask for tree to be planted over me. It pleases me to think that some of my remains might be absorbed into a mighty oak or a shady maple or a staunch jack pine.
Soon enough, it was time to leave, time to say goodbye, a sort of goodbye anyway although my memories go with me and will endure for as long as I endure. Someday, that's all I shall be, a shadow in someone else's memories, and then those memories too shall fade, and I shall finally fade with them. Perhaps that is as immortal as we shall ever be. I couldn't help but think that today, that this one brief and flickering candle that we call life is all that we have to live and that we might as well live it fully, whatever that means to each person. I am not dogmatic about this, and I am not being theological in this respect; it was simply an impression that I had.
Soon, too soon, the best part of an hour had flown by, and it was time to depart. I patted the headstone and spoke out loud. I told mum and dad or the ground or the air around them that they had done a fine job, that they had done their best and that their best was enough.
That's not so bad is it: to do your best and for you best to be enough?