|Old Woman in Cemetery|
In Honor of Life
by CJ Heck
The second was for Uncle Theo Tarns. He was killed when his plane was shot down in the second great war. She had never met Uncle Theo, but she was still fiercely proud of him and, as with great-grampa, forever indebted to him for his service.
The last bouquet was always the most difficult. She always made sure it was the largest, most colorful of the three. This bouquet had to be special, because it was for Daddy.
She remembered crying and begging him to stay. "Please don't go, Daddy. I'll miss you and so will Mommy. Please stay. We need you." She knew he was just as sad to leave them. She saw him wipe his eyes when he turned to hug and kiss her mother.
Lidia remembered how sad that time had been, after the family learned he had been killed. But as sad as she had been, she had never felt so helpless, as hearing her mother sob into her pillow at night and not knowing how to comfort her.
Her prayers over, she finished talking to Uncle Theo. Now it was time to find Daddy. Her heart always felt like it was in her throat as she walked the steep path to the upper section where Daddy rested in the Cleary family plot.
Just as she was nearly at the top, she saw an elderly woman bending over one of the older headstones to the left of the walkway. Lidia stopped, hoping the woman wasn't about to topple over. She watched in silence as the woman tucked a folded paper under a vase of roses on the flat marble headstone and then adjusted a small American flag.
As the woman stood, she suddenly turned and their eyes met. Lidia could almost feel the woman's thoughts when she saw the pain in her eyes. Then just as quickly, the moment was gone and the woman had turned away.
Lidia felt compelled to go over to the headstone and read whatever it was the woman had tucked under the vase.
"To my husband, my lover, my friend: I will always love you. I hope you like the roses. All my love forever, Your Maeve"
Then one day, like a bucket with a hole, you see grief sifting slowly through, and instead of mourning their death, you begin to celebrate what they meant to you in life.
As Lidia thanked Steven Adam Cleary once more for being her father, she also remembered all of the love and the good times they had together.
Now when Lidia cried, she could also smile -- and this time, they were tears of joy.
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale