I’ve just come from a reunion of sorts, of living and dead. Rowe’s oldest resident passed away earlier in the week and I went to her simple service to pay my respects and offer what comfort I could to those she’d left behind.
Her gravesite is at the far rear corner of the cemetery and I walked past the graves of people who have been a part of my life in one way or another. Headstone by headstone I read the names. By the time I reached the service site I was thinking, “Wow, I know everyone here”.
The weather was beautiful, the service poignant. She will be missed, not only by her family but by the townspeople, we all had our stories.
These are the occasions where I really feel my age – I don’t feel older but figure I must be because everyone around me has aged considerably. I visited with someone who was once my neighbor, we figured it’s been over 35 years since we had talked to one another. During our conversation we talked about growing up in a small town and how we carry all these people around with us for a lifetime. They are stopped in time until we meet face to face only to have to come to terms with our own aging and mortality. Kids are grown and have gone to begin their own lives and families – in our minds they are forever 6 years old.
The other amazing thing is the ease with which we converse with those we have not seen in years, like it’s only been a few months, at most a couple of years. We talked about the foundation we were given in childhood that has allowed us to have respect for ourselves and for others. How we grew up knowing that we could always count on our neighbors for a helping hand in an emergency. We grew up with community.
Jim was there with his grandson – he had dug her grave. I think Jim has buried everyone I know that has passed away in Rowe. He is a kind, hard working, respectful man. Seeing his grandson with him gave me comfort in knowing that he is grooming another generation in the way he has always done business. It will not be lost.
Spending time after the service at her house reminiscing with her family I realized how we all pass on our little gifts. We ate food from her recipes, talked of dogs long gone and settled into the hospitality that her daughters and grandchildren had inherited from her. They are probably unaware at how much they are their mother, I don’t think we ever see that in ourselves. It’s good for those of us saying goodbye to one generation to see them in their children.