When I was a kid (a trillion, zillion years ago), I used to dread trips to the graveyard . My grandparents would go and pay their respects to dead relatives who I had never met. I didn’t want to be there. I had no past and no real memories to speak of. I didn’t know the people under the marble slabs. And graveyards creeped me out.
Yesterday, 40 years later, I pulled into the same graveyard. I parked my car and walked silently between the tombstones as the Smoky mountains loomed like timeless sentinels in the distance.
I had come to visit my grandparents.
I felt peace as I talked to them. I asked them for guidance. Although they didn’t answer me, I knew they were with me. On that cold, windy Maryville afternoon, I felt warmth. The warmth I used to feel when I was that kid following them around the graveyard. It was the warmth from the knowledge that all four of them loved me so very much.
I lost the last one in 2001. Twelve years later, I still carry that love with me.
As I was walking through the silent field of stone back to my car, I thought of something sobering:
We are two generations from no one knowing who we were. We are like footsteps in a snowstorm.