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The Helena Arkansas Daily World - Helena, AR
  • The grave is not the end of the line

  • Once upon a time in my long ago but not forgotten childhood, a cemetery was the setting for a spooky story or a Frankenstein movie. A scene in a graveyard would simply send chills down my spine as a six-year-old child watching a black and white horror flick unfold before my very eyes.
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  • Once upon a time in my long ago but not forgotten childhood, a cemetery was the setting for a spooky story or a Frankenstein movie. A scene in a graveyard would simply send chills down my spine as a six-year-old child watching a black and white horror flick unfold before my very eyes. As I grew older, my perception of a cemetery has gradually changed. As a rapidly aging adult, I no longer view them as the end of the line but as a new beginning. My grandchildren began to drive that point home to me on my latest return trek to my old stomping grounds in Osceola, about a 2 and ½ hour ride up river from Helena. Since the loss of our parents, Joyce and I make regular pilgrimages back to where we grew up and our folks' final resting places. Here, I will give credit where credit is due. Joyce picks out the flowers and respectfully places them on the graves of our loved ones. It is a tradition I wouldn't change for the world. Until my most recent return to Osceola, I found myself somewhat depressed after a visit to the gravesite. My heart selfishly ached for Mom and Dad to be back at my side though I knew they were in a far better place than I am now. I'm not going to lie to you I still wish I could call on their wisdom and their advice. Gradually, the pain of their loss – other than the simply I miss them – has somewhat subsided. The visits to the cemetery coincide with visits with my brother Mike and his wife, Elaine and I get to momentarily relive those precious moments we shared – the good times as well as the trying times. Saturday's visit to the cemetery was quite different. My children and their children and spouses were there. There also were other people paying tribute to their loved ones. I heard the beautiful squeals of a pair of two-year olds and the questions of an “elderly” nine-year-old. She was simply fascinated about finding out about her great grandparents and even her great-great grandparents. Suddenly, it dawned on me that the cemetery is not the end of the line. I realized just how God blesses us by giving us new life to replace those who have lived, long productive lives and were rewarded by being permitted to go home and actually be with a truly Loving God. Church service the following Sunday morning was special indeed. The younger members of the family had returned home as work beckoned. Joyce, Mike, Elaine and myself entered the building that my mom had taken me to worship our Maker so many years before. The numbers of that congregation have dwindled but the Spirit is still very much there. In a quite moment, I could almost hear mom joining in the congregational singing of those old familiar songs, I can sing, thanks to her, without the use of a songbook. A host of memories rushed back to me as I recalled the many Godly men and women of that congregation that still have a profound influence on the way I lead my life today. Author Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You Can't Go Home Again.” I am not sure that I totally agree with him except perhaps in the physical sense that nothing remains the same on this Earth. But God has made it possibly that we stay in contact with the spirit of those we love. You know it is kind of a comforting thought that the pitter-patter of little feet of my great grandchildren may someday be heard on the ground that eventually becomes my final resting place.
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