Saturday, October 31, 2009

First Trip to the Cemetery

Remembering my first trip to the cemetery. I was just six. Grandmother had died, and there were red roses on her casket. They gave me one. I took it home and was angry at it. I think I destroyed it, but that memory, like many of my only grandparent is gone. I still cannot smell the rich fragrance of roses and think of anything but that day.

My grandmother had come from Whales when she was an 8 year old child in 1892. Somehow the love of polka music had gotten into her soul, and that is the musical memory she gave me. Singers belted their yodels through her brown record-player speakers, and they echoed them against her apartment walls. She had a bed in the living room I think. I don’t know why. It had a big thick club under it to hit a bad guy if needed. But her heart attacked her before they could, and all I got to keep was a rose.

Her son truly broke my heart for the first time ever. As a 33 year old, I had never missed a day of work because of illness. But I missed one with broken heart right after discovering that my father was dying of cancer. I came in that morning to the office in the back corner of the old Parkview church building—facing the state park and the parking lot. But I couldn’t stay. I cried and Vivian told me she’d explain just before I left for home.

But the days since my father’s passing in 1992 have largely healed the wound of his loss. A deep scar is still there, but I don’t mind its presence because other and more profound impressions upon me have marked me for the better. The joys of his presence and the lessons he instilled were more than worth the agonizing pain of his loss. And that loss still hurts. And those joys and lessons still heal and bless.

When was your first visit to a cemetery? When was your most painful? Do really believe that Jesus conquered death's victory? This is a good week to remember that grave is not all it's cracked up to be.

3 comments:

kdwmson said...

My most painful visit was 3 weeks after I buried my wife Bev. It was her birthday and the kids and I went and lofted some balloons and cried and prayed together. It was dark and cold (late November). You don't ever completely ever get over a loss like that. You just find ways to accept it and do what you can. Dave is right that it does shape you in ways and can make you a better person. I hope I am a better man today. I wish there were lessons that could be learned more easily, but I guess we wouldn't learn them then.

Zee said...

there were visits to the cemetery to my grandpa's and my great grandma's graves once a year around Easter time. i did not know them and not much about them either, so i did not really realize what are we doing (and no one really explained... or maybe i don't remember)

i've only been to three funerals, two of which were my grandma's and Luba's. the third one was mom's mother-in-law.

the most painful was Luba's... i was confused and... *sigh*...

more at my blog.

Mark said...

My first visit was my Uncle Mic when I was a teenager. I remember walking up to the casket at the cemetery thinking and watching. I remember what I was wearing, the fall leaves, the smell of the ending of one season to the next and the amazing loss and empty feeling I had that I might never see him again, but I also remember my grandfather saying God's grace is so much more than anything we can ever imagene. Immediate peace come over me.

My most painful was my pastor/collegue friend Randy who I spent several years in ministry with. The pain I felt was like nothing I'd ever felt before, it was gut wrenching. This death was the second one with Randy, because the first was hours, days of waiting to see if he would live. I remember my wife cleaning up the gun shot wound. Me sitting on the hospital floor with my face in my hands crying, begging, pleading w/God to allow him to live and knowing in reality that the pain I was feeling was not really my own.

Do I believe that Jesus conquered deaths victory? In my heart yes.