Last week I made a visit to a grave site. A man lays buried there, a man I never met, but I knew his family, I knew them very well. I had visited his place of rest before. Last week I happened to be in the area working and an urge came over me to drive up the winding hill and have a visit.
Peaceful, as a cemetery should be. The breeze was slight through the tree branches. The air seemed crisp up on the hill even though I remember the humidity being thick before I got out of my car. I could hear the gravel from the car path crackle beneath my feet as I carefully walked forward. I breathed in the calm and I knelt.
Dried grass clippings were scattered on the ledge of his stone, as I brushed them off I picked up a plaque that had fallen to the ground. The plaque read, "Dad, your smile is always with me." I was there the day his son glued that plaque to his stone. I felt the tears start to roll down my cheeks. A slew of emotions came over me. It's something, the realness of feelings you can have when no one is around to witness.
Our time on this earth is so short. I look around and wonder if many people realize that fact of life. I used to try and figure out what my mission was. I have realized that 'just being' may be the mission in itself, for all of us.
We may not like 'just being'. It may feel as though there is something greater we should be
achieving on earth, something profound. But, what if we aren't? What if just being a part of someone's life is our mission. What if it is our mission is to strive to surround ourselves by people who will really make us better. I mean really make us better, make us laugh more, make us think before we speak, make us see the positive in even the most dire times. Those people are not always easy to find nor are they easy to continue to be around once we do find them.
I read a paragraph on a website written by Ralph Marston, "Those who truly care about you are not always the easiest or most comfortable to be around. For they will consistently hold you to the very highest standards. Yet they are the best kind of people to be around. Because they will indeed help you to attain those high and valuable standards".
As I reflected upon the meaning of life in front of the gray granite; was this man the type of person who made the people around him live to a higher standard? Am I that type of person? A tear fell because of the introspection that question asks. I know that I want to be, but that is a hard standard to uphold.
Another tear fell because I never had the opportunity of 'just being' around this man. A man I have heard so much about. I never had the opportunity to sit and eat a meal with him and know his personality even though I feel I know him through all of the well remembered stories. A person that must have passed along a lot of traits to his wife, children and grandchildren. I wonder what part of him they all carry around with them, if not all.
His 'just being' made a huge unforgettable impression on so many people. His 'just being' funny made for a lot of stories to be told and passed down. His 'just being' a straight forward man made for a successful business. His 'just being' made for a wife to feel secure and loved. His 'just being' made his children miss him just as much today as when he first passed. Another tear fell for the memories that were passed on to me in a way that I felt I knew him.
As I stood there I knew these tears were coming from a deep part of my soul that only he and I shared at that moment. A tear fell for his family that he was taken so soon, a tear fell for his grandson that will never know the man he was named after, I cried for myself and my failures that I know he has seen from above.
If my 'just being' is half of what his must have been, I know that I am doing just fine. I placed the plaque, cracked in the top corner from it's fall, back on the stone where it was once glued. Rest in peace my friend, we will meet someday. I said a prayer and as I walked away my last tear fell.
- Ralna Krager is a Pilot-Tribune advertising representative.