Friday, August 01, 2008

Requiem For A Good Man

It was August 1st, just a few years ago, at approximately 2pm that I received a call telling me that Trooper's beloved grandfather was in the hospital after having suffered another bout of heart pain. I rushed from the office to the north side of Atlanta and further still trying to get there in time because we'd spoken...not a few weekends before...about whether or not to call an ambulance...

He was so unlike his photos and all I've known of him is sickness and frailty. But Trooper knew him when he was strong as an ox, as a man who could work all day outside without a single ill effect. The man who raised him into the fine man that he has become.

I slowed my truck to a reasonable speed when the 2nd call came through, indicating that the man had passed over from the mundane to the sacred. I arrived at the hospital to find the family, weeping tears and watching each other to see who was weeping the most. (Yes, yes...they are...that way...) I passed a handkerchief to the spoiled daughter and hugged the immature son. I declined a viewing, not needing it to spoil the mental images I already had.

I could not help but feel the sting of anger and regret that the wife hadn't listened to him, had called the ambulance rather than let him pass whole and with choice. He was tired of it all, had no desire to be further cut and sewn upon. And then it was time to make that other call...

Trooper was still in the academy, nearing the end and scheduled to head into his 5th DWI class of his career that week - one could say he was well-versed in the matter already. I reached the main desk and indicated that, while the information might not surprise him, it would be a very hard message to receive, and to give it when appropriate for his schedule that day. In short, I did not want to upset him prior to a test or other important part of his day.

I believe his favorite instructor called him aside and gave him the news. As always, though he shed a tear, he quickly came together again to continue his day while making plans for leave for the funeral. Which then led to another instructor declaring that his missing the DWI course would prevent his graduation. Oh, there was a bit of an argument about that. He would not miss the funeral even if it meant dismissal. Thankfully, it was decided he would merely take the test and see if he passed after his return. Of course, he did.

We spoke just the other day about the funeral...of how no one who knew the man spoke...of how he'd asked to have a turn and was ignored. And the wailing and lamentations from hooded eyes, again trying to outdo one another in contrition. It was a sad affair. But we returned last time to his grave, saying words and taking the moments we could not that day. A comfort if slender and chill.

So here's to you, Sir. How you are missed...

Let eternal light shine on them, Lord,
as with Your saints in eternity,
because You are merciful.
Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them,
as with Your saints in eternity,
because You are merciful.

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