This I Believe

Thomas - Columbia, Maryland
Entered on July 20, 2007

I spent a portion of Father’s Day this year at the cemetery. It is the one time of year I go as visiting the graveyard is really not high on my list of things to do. In fact, I have let it be known that I wish to stay out of the cemetery myself when my time comes, choosing instead to be cremated. The other reason for staying away is that I feel I can remember my parents and other deceased loved ones in other ways than visiting their tombstones.

Funny thing is that I have found walking around the cemetery to be somewhat peaceful and the opportunity does allow me to be alone with my thoughts.

Here is what was on mind this past June:

— I recalled reading the obit of an 18-year old Baltimore girl, who apparently, had, as her doctor put it, “won the cancer lottery.” The girl had been terminally ill for a year with some very rare form of the disease. She had impacted a lot of people and was quoted before her death as saying, “The key to happiness is learning to live with and accept what you have been given.” Maybe not the most profound or original statement there was, but it stuck with me nonetheless.

— I remembered attending a funeral recently in a Church for a person, who, to my knowledge, actually had no interest in God when he was alive. His funeral got me to thinking about how, just once, I’d like to go to a service and hear someone say:

“We gather here today to celebrate ‘Joe’. Though it is odd we gather here in Church, because when ‘Joe’ was alive, the last place he would be caught ‘dead’ in would be Church. You’d more likely find him in a bar or a casino.”

Funerals are odd occasions, where the meanest of people can be spoken of in terms that would make you believe they were the second coming of Mother Theresa. But I’m good with that too. In fact, here is a little poem I have put together for my wake, which I plan to be held in an Irish pub:

When I die

Do not cry

But lie, lie, lie.

Exaggerate. Elaborate. Pontificate.

But do not evaluate.

For only God can judge

And sift through the sludge

Of the life that I now vacate.

Two years ago on Father’s Day, one of my sisters wound up being late for our appointed meeting and that left me with what I called “time among the tombstones.” Walking around that day, I was surprised to see how many other people I knew who were buried there besides my relations. It is odd knowing a lot of people who are dead. However, I guess that’s what happens when you get older and I thought about them all this year and will be sure to remember them again next year, God willing, as I spend another Father’s Day at the cemetery.