How Did I Get Here, And Where Is The Next Turn?

Greetings and salutations to all who deem this worthy of your time...

Brought up Jul 11, 2012

Hank

Last night, my daughter and I went to a visitation for a gentleman from our church. His wife is a sweet lady of whom I am quite fond, but I rarely spoke with her husband. In my opinion, visitations, wakes, are for the friends of those who remain to give their condolences. Funerals are for saying goodbye. I rarely attend funerals, unless I am saying goodbye, but I have been to more visitations than I care to count.

Thinking about last night as I walked this morning, a few things tumbled about in my brain. I realized last night that it was the first time I went to a funeral home, and there was no body. There was no preserved shell of Hank carefully placed on display in his sunday best or favorite outfit with makeup attempting to make him appear 'presentable.' In fact, when I went into the viewing room, all I saw at first were his wife and family. His wife hugged me, said how much she appreciated my coming. She is one who never says what she doesn't mean, and it touched me. She told me to go look at the pictures.

There were many pictures on display, in his military uniform, what looked like a graduation picture, images of Hank before I ever met him. He was a handsome rascal, and I could see what would have drawn the young woman in the bridal gown, in one photo, to him. Even in the photos, he seemed to radiate strength and confidence. Those images frozen in time gave no hint of weakness, of the struggle he had over the past years, or the pain of the last months. I walked around the room, glancing at the flowers, more photos, until I came to a single picture of the man I had known. There were still shadows of that handsome boy in the smile and eyes under a black cowboy hat. and to it's left, a simple rectangle of black marble, with white veins runing over the top, and faintly on the one side. I knew it was hallow. Inside, what remained of Hank. To the right of the photo was a familiar triangle shaped box, the blue and stars on display. It dawned on me how fitting it was. Hank was a no nonsense type of guy, who didn't suffer fools. He was one who knew what he knew, and though at times I sensed he was a bit shy, he never hesitated to make his beliefs known. even the funeral home it's self seemed perfect somehow. Simple, classy, almost homey. In those moments, I realized, I may have missed getting to know a very interesting person. What I had seen of Hank was only at church. I wish I could have spent more time with him and his wife, relaxed and visiting. My one really great memory of him was the two of us sneaking smokes one night before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, I think. Nothing of consequence was really said, just the usual words, but it stands out for me now. I wish I had taken the time to know the man with the cowboy hat and devil may care grin. Yes, I think I may have missed out on someone worth knowing.

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