The words were a line
across the bottom half of a gravestone one row over. The cemetary was a short drive from where my grandmother had built for the setting-sun years of her life; it was Father's day, and this year I came along. In respectful silence, we lay flowers on the bed where cancer had laid my grandfather: a strong, serious man whose confident hands
no longer turned farm machinery. Cancer
. He who had raised a dairy farm and eight children out of soil and hard work was at the last propped up in a bed, gasping for breath we couldn't give him. I didn't want to remember him like that.
My grandmother's name
was etched close to her husband's. Helena. 1934- . I don't know how the unfinished date made her feel, but the weight of it felt heavy to me. Surrounding gravestones seemed to become exit signs, scrawled notes left on the table by the door. Some were confident, some brash
. Some were barren. Others simply showed an inscribed picture of a favorite pastime: fishing, skiing...
But the inscription
that caught my eye was this: "One hour there was sunlight". It seemed cryptic, ambiguous. Cemeteries are for "Rest In Peace
" or "Here Lies
"--solemn pronouncements standing disciplined through fog and quiet nights
. This one spoke of sunlight. Really? Was one hour enough
I remember my grandfather telling me long and rambling bedtime stories
. He'd lift me out of bed onto his big lap and I'd touch his large palms with my tiny fingers. He'd tell me my own special version of Peter Rabbit, rough stubble scratching my ear when I'd lean my head toward the warm gruffness of his voice. He would conjure with the sun, dancing it among the brambles of the Briar Patch that Peter Rabbit
Someone once told me that while they lived, one hour there was sunlight. I was reminded of the sunlight of my own