“I still miss them,” she whispered softly beneath her breath. Had I not been standing so near to her at that very moment I would not have heard it. But I understood. It was during our annual Labor Day visit to West Texas that I had accompanied Tee to the cemetery where her parents and grandparents are buried when she spoke those words softly to herself just before returning to the car. I’ve muttered them myself numerous times when I have visited the gravesites of my own parents and grandparents, which I do every chance I get. I still miss them.
Mother Teresa once said, “Just allow people to . . . see how you pray, to see how you lead a pure life, to see how you deal with your family, to see how much peace there is in your family. Then you can look straight into their eyes and say, ‘This is the way.’ You speak from life, you speak from experience.”
My grandfathers both passed away when I was a young child, and while I was close to them during those brief years my memory of them has admittedly become a bit delusional. That is to say what I remember most vividly about my grandfathers is more about such things as how they prayed, the purity of their lives, how they dealt with their families and the peace that resided there. I recall very little about their human flaws, frailties or failures which they surely must have had. Yet, somehow I think perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It is how after all these many years I can imagine looking straight into their eyes and hearing their counsel, “This is the way.”
An email came to me the other day from a young woman searching for information about her great-grandparents. Somehow she must have found my name on the internet as someone who once lived in the same town where they had lived. I had in fact known her great-grandparents and responded to her by sharing a couple of stories I remembered about them. It struck me by her enormous gratitude to my response how those two little tidbits about her great-grandparents – who she had never known – must have inspired her in the same way my grandparents, parents, and many other loved ones continue to inspire me. And it helped me to understand at an even deeper level what my wife meant when she whispered those words the other day at the cemetery. “I still miss them.”