Monday, September 12, 2005

Part VII: Remembrance

When one journeys back in Time, so to speak, there's more to it than just visiting the places from a personal past. My visit was no different in this regard. It wasn't all meant to be fun and games; I had one other purpose on my itinerary. On Thursday morning, I attended to it.

In several cases, I knew where I was going; in one very special case, I was unable to find where it was I needed to be. Thus, I made due with where I wound up. I figured remembrance would serve, whatever the venue.

One of the two places was Orange Township Cemetery. I had a few acquaintances to remember there. The site itself is set about 1/2 mile or more off the main road, back away from the homes and schools, on a piece of rolling countryside, surrounded by agriculture, majestic trees, and -- I believe -- serene, eternal peace. A very painstakingly maintained site, it is a place of genuine beauty, considering what it was. On this day, it was warm and muggy, with plenty of overcast and a threat of rain not far in the offing. Still, a worthy place as any to come to final rest in. On this day and at this place, it was certainly that.

One by one, I located acquaintances from so many years ago: my old school bus driver, who took such good-natured but serious pains to see to the safe and dependable transportation of a bus load of kids of all ages, school year after school year. And he did just that. Never once was a student injured on his watch in my time. I don't know when he retired; I only know he was my bus driver for my 3rd-6th school years. Now he was here, as he had been since 1985; his wife having joined him in eternal rest, in 2000. It was good to be there, and let them know they were remembered and appreciated.

Not far away rested our old family babysitter. Further down the lane rested a neighbor who ran a farm we had lived on for a time. And nearby, in a family designated plot, lay at peace a friend -- two years younger than me -- who had perished in a vehicle accident in 1970. I had paid respects to him at the funeral home before his funeral; it felt necessary and good that I would return again, 35 years later, and let him know he wasn't forgotten.

Good-natured soul that he was, I'm sure he knew it.

I spent a briefer period of time visiting two others whom I'd known, now resting in another cemetery further to the south. Then it was time to return once more to the Orange Township Cemetery. I had one more remembrance to do and this place was, to me at least, as good a place I knew to do it.

I started attending Orange Elementary in my 3rd grade year. Most of the students I attended with continued on with me, completing their 6th grade year at Orange, going onto another junior high for two years, then returning to Orange for the last year there was a 9th grade there; I moved to Colorado before that year was up. They all went onto graduate from Waterloo West High School.

All of them but one. She didn't follow us to the 4th grade. A higher power intervened.

I only met her once: she was desperately ill in our third grade year. Terminally ill, though many of us didn't grasp that. But one day, while she was still able, she came to class one time and for a short while, to be with her classmates.

She was weak and frail; but the joy in her eyes of being with her classmates was a beacon that day, and the smile on her face spoke volumes. I'd never seen her before; I never saw her again. It wasn't until after her gentle spirit had passed on that we were informed that she was beyond us now.

Strangely, I never forgot her. So many things I have forgotten over the years; but for whatever reason, I never forgot her.

I didn't know her parents' first names. A computer search before my trip had given me a hopelessly endless list of folks with the same last name, scattered all over Iowa and beyond. I had no idea the date she had passed, or where she'd been laid to rest. Record searches of deaths and cemetery listings answered no questions.

Then again, I'd come back to this place for a reason, and all that mattered now was the purpose.

So in this incredibly serene, quiet place -- little more than a mile from where I once and only once beheld her as a classmate -- I took a moment to remember little Melody Marsh. A classmate, a gentle soul, and gone way too soon from our presence here. She'd been gone 40 years; but at this particular moment, I could picture her in my minds' eye, just as she had been that day in the fall of '65.

Whether my imagination or not, a light breeze chose to gently whisper through the trees overhead about that time. I was willing to fancy that, in that moment, she was letting me know she heard me. And this was her effort at a smile, as from so long ago

Melody, I still remember. And you were worth the trip. God bless.

Finally, Part VIII: Parting and The Hazardous Road


Blogger FTS said...

Amazing the impact a single moment with a special person can have on our lives.

12 September, 2005 17:46  
Blogger Monica said...

well said, FTS.

Little Melody has long lived in the memories of her beloved family and now thanks to you, Skunk, she lives forever in our hearts.

14 September, 2005 08:35  

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