Visiting a loved one

It has been almost twelve years since my grandfather’s funeral. During those twelve years, I’ve never once visited my grandfather’s grave. I don’t know if I was afraid of the cemetery or I was just lazy but I finally made myself go and visit.

Twelve years is a long time. I hadn’t realized that it was that long since my grandfather passed away. I didn’t figure out it was that long until I arrived at the site. The grave site wasn’t exactly where I thought it was either. Since twelve years had passed, I’m surprised that I was able to remember the area.

The only thing I remember about the cemetery that my grandfather was buried in, was that it was in Burlington along Plains Rd. I didn’t know that there were a couple of cemeteries in the area. The one that I thought was the right one ended up being the wrong one. Luckily, there were a couple of nice ladies that were able to make a few calls and pointed me in the right directions.

From the information that they’ve managed to get, they informed me that my grandfather was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Section 10, Row 40, Grave #2. When I arrived at Woodland Cemetery, I didn’t have any problem finding Section 10 but I did have a problem locating the rest of the area. The cemetery was covered in snow and there was nothing to mark which row was which. The only thing I remembered was that the grave was closed to the road.

I found a small building that had some workers inside of it. I walked in and asked if one of them could help me locate a grave. I handed one of them the information about the location and he said that he could assist. He pulls out a map and told me to follow him in his van.

After driving around for a minute or so, the van stopped at the opposite end of Section 10. The worker looked at the map, flipped it around a couple of times and then told me that we were standing in the right spot. When I looked at the gravestone, I saw a different name. At first, I was confused but then the man kicked off a layer of snow and there it was my grandfather’s gravestone. I thanked the man for his assistants and walked to my car to get the wreath that I bought earlier.


I cleared off the remaining snow with my hands because it would be rude to use my feet. I had some respect. By the time I was done with all the snow, my hand had gone numb. It was -12 degrees Celsius and I didn’t have any gloves with me. I could barely move my fingers at the time. The rest of my body was starting to shiver from cold.

I squat down and made myself into a ball to try and stay warm. After a couple minutes of this, I managed to stop shaking. But as I stared at the grave stone, my eyes started to water. That’s when the tears just starting flowing out. I couldn’t control it. I haven’t cried since elementary school but here I was, a grown man, crying uncontrollability.

I haven’t seen my grandfather since I was fourteen years old. I was just starting high school at the time. I was a teenager and I was still learning about life at that age. All of a sudden I’m hit with news that life eventually ends. How do you cope with something like that at such a young age? I was always one to keep everything inside, hidden away from everyone. At the time, you probably wouldn’t have even known I was mourning. The whole time I was there, I must have wept at least three times. Each time, the tears came out on its own.

I didn’t really know what do to as I stood there. I doubted that my grandfather could hear but for this one time, I pretended that he could. I updated him on how the family is doing. I told him how all the kids are all grown up now. I mentioned that I achieved my goal of graduating from college. I said whatever came to mind. I told him about my regret for not getting to know him better while he was alive. Just expressing all of that didn’t feel like it was enough but if he was able to hear me, I’m sure he appreciated the update.

As I stood there, another funeral arrived. They were burying someone in Section 10 as well. But the weird thing was, none of them appeared to be sad. They all seemed to be just normal. No one was crying or anything. The service last maybe no more than five minutes and they left. First the priest or the bishop or whoever left first and then the family left shortly after. I know that it was cold and they probably can’t stand the sub zero temperature but they could have stayed a bit longer.

When we buried my grandfather, we were out there for a while. I remember tossing in some coin onto the casket. It was actually lowered into the ground but only a few shovel of dirt was tossed on top. The cemetery guy took care of filling it up. The family that I saw today didn’t see the casket enter the ground. They probably said their goodbyes and left. The cemetery guy came by a few minutes later to lower the casket into the ground.

As I stood there, I lost all sense of time. I checked my watch and saw that it was close to 11:15am. I had been standing out there for a good half hour or so. I secured the wreath to a near by pole and said my goodbyes. I made a promise to come back in the summer to properly secure the wreath onto its own stand. The ground was frozen solid so I couldn’t get the stand far enough into the ground. I left the stand lying there beside the grave. Hopefully, it doesn’t get blown away by strong winds.

I wiped whatever tears I had left and walked back to my car. When I got into the car, I noticed that it was actually 12:15pm. All those tears must have blurred my vision and I read my watch wrong. I was standing outside for about one and a half hours in sub zero temperature. At first I was shivering a lot from the cold but the longer I was out there, the warmer I started to feel. It could have been hypothermia kicking in but I didn’t really care at the time. I had a lot of other things on my mind.

I just stood there thinking about the past, the present and the future. I haven’t done much with my life. I’ve always had some sort of excuse not to do things. For the longest time, school was my biggest excuse for everything. I wouldn’t do anything because I was “supposedly” too busy with school. But I wasn’t. That was just and excuse. Now, the excuse is work. I’m not busy with work. It’s all a lie I use so I won’t have to do anything. No matter what comes up, I always find an excuse not to do it.

It got started thinking on where I’m heading. I don’t even know where I’ve been let alone where I’m going. I’m stuck working at a job that drains every ounce of energy out of my body. I am too tired during the day to have energy to do anything else. If I want to get my life on track, I’m going to have to find myself a normal job. Working the night shift is not normal at all. And I need to stop making excuses and just do it.

My grandfather lived to be sixty two years old. Of those sixty two years, he spent about eight years in Canada. During those eight years he probably did a lot. I know he did a lot of fishing. He went fishing practically every day. He would bike down to the habour front and spend the whole day there. Fishing was what he enjoyed and I’m glad that he was able to live the rest of his life in Canada where he was able to do the things he loved without haven’t too worry about much.

I am not old enough to be administering advices to anyone but if I could advise you on something, it would be this. “Slow down and smell the roses.” There’s so much that life has to offer you but you won’t see it because we’re too busy living in the fast lane. When you’re moving that fast, everything is a blur and you’ll miss out on the more important things. You need to slow it down a little and appreciate the little things in life. Get to know people a little more. Tend to you loved ones. Reflect on your thoughts. There are important details in the little things but if you don’t slow down enough, you will overlook something great. Take a look around you and pay attention to the details and you’ll see simplicity at its best.

One reply on “Visiting a loved one”

  1. true Don…people do need to slow down in life and appreciate the thing’s they have around them! Reading your post reminded me about my grandfather who passed away when I was about 12…I was close to him…miss him a lot.

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