Saturday, June 10, 2006

Second Saturday in June

It’s a warm day today. I’m sitting under a funeral home tent at the Davis Cemetery in Dora. There’s a slight breeze blowing from the southwest that feels good to the skin. This is an annual thing for me. I’m here collecting money for the clean-up fund which is used to keep the grass cut at Davis Cemetery. The cemetery is on a list of historical places in Alabama. Many of my kin folks are buried here.
My dad sat under one of these tents on many second Saturday's (and Sunday's in June) before he got too frail.
This year was twenty years since he passed away.
In May of 1986 my job kept me on the road a good deal.
Dad’s health had deteriorated and every time the phone rang in the night, I was afraid it was “the call”. My mom was on pins and needles and every time he took a turn for the worse, she would call and say “Daddy’s not doing good.”
On May 22n, I was in Atlanta and Jilda called in Atlanta and told me that dad was not doing well.
I had commitments there and I debated not going home until that night but when I talked to mamma and heard the sound of her voice something deep inside said “you need to go home.” When I told my boss that I needed to go home because my dad was ill, he sounded annoyed. “Well I need you here but if you have to go, then go.” Under normal circumstances, those words would have been enough for me to stay. But in my heart I knew that I should head towards Alabama.
I called the airport and caught the next plane to Birmingham
. All the flights were full but I got a seat because someone else didn’t make the flight. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Before I boarded, I called Jilda and she met me at the airport and took me to Jasper. I rode over to Atlanta with my boss so didn’t have a car.
We made it to Jasper in record time. I don’t think we got caught by a single red-light.
I rushed into the hospital and up to intensive care. The look on my sister’s face said everything. The nurse took me back to my dad and his breathing had already become labored. I stood there with my older brother Neil for a while and listened to the beeping and clicking sounds of the machines. He opened his eyes and looked at Neil and then at me. I said I love you daddy. He softly squeezed my hand. The nurse came in and stood beside us for a long while before saying softly “you know this is the end.” We both nodded. His blood pressure started dropping and a few minutes later came the steady tone of the heart monitor uninterupted by heartbeats.
Walking out to a waiting family to tell them he was gone was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I have always been grateful for the decision to come home that day. I have always said, especially since then, that you should listen to your inner voice.
So today, I’m sitting here under this tent as a slow moving train crosses the number 11 trestle blowing the horn for the Samoset crossing.
I find comfort somehow in knowing that I’m doing what he did on the second Saturday in June all those years ago.

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