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18th of July 2018

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Lo and Behold... - The Good Men Project

TASK #25: LO AND BEHOLD

“In the long run we are all dead”. John Maynard Keynes,

I don’t know why, but I always go to visit the graves of my mom and dad on the 4th of July. I go in the morning, rain or shine, and I put some flowers in front of my mom’s grave, and occasionally some in front of my dad’s as well, but not always, because my old man would thought that a sentimental gesture like that was bull shit.

I stared at the graves for a while. I tried to conjour up my mother’s voice, but it’s gone. And the only image of my dad still stored in my memory is him an old man, ravaged by Alzheimers.

My parents, Elizabeth (only no one called her Elizabeth, just Betty) and Harlan (a sucky old fashioned name that fit him somehow) are buried next to each other beneath an oak tree. In front of my dad’s grave is a small glass vase and an American flag, symbolic of his short stint in the U.S. Army. My mother’s grave has no adornment. Just her name and dates.

I stared at the graves for a while. I tried to conjour up my mother’s voice, but it’s gone. And the only image of my dad still stored in my memory is him an old man, ravaged by Alzheimers.

Alzheimers is a nasty way to go, by the way. He lived at my sister’s house for a while until he nearly burned down the place when he tried to cook pasta, and he ran away in the dead of winter wearing only his pajama top.

After a bit I wandered away from the grave. I looked at the tombstones. I stopped in front of one that had a baseball sculpted into the headstone. It marked the grave of a 10 year old boy. The inscription read: To Our Beloved Aaron. He loved baseball and his family.

It made me cry. i was crying for Aaron’s lost youth and I was crying for my parents, too. And after a while, after I stopped crying, I felt better.

Later I wrote down some epitaphs. An epitaph is a phrase that you’d put on your headstone. It’s important, because it has to represent who you were until that headstone wears away.

TASK

This week you’re taking a road trip. To a cemetery. Walk around. Read the inscriptions on the headstones, and try to picture them in your mind’s eye.

Then go home and open your notebook and think up an epitaph for your headstone. Actually it doesn’t have to be original. It can be a poem, or a phrase, or a line from the movie “Scarface”.

I chose “Buckeye Til I Die” for myself. My wife scoffed at it when I told her, but she couldn’t come up with anything better, even though she tried.

Photo courtesy of the author

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