Some of you are probably thinking that I should save this post for the end of October, but I have my reasons for placing this where it is. Mostly because it fits chronologically (I know that’s basic, but I tend to be a bit down to Earth sometimes).
One of the downfalls with growing up on the edge of nowhere is that I didn’t have a great deal of options when it came to employment opportunities. Notice that I didn’t say work opportunities; being raised on a farm (that’s right, I said raised, not reared, read my post titled THE FARM to see why) meant that there was no shortage of work to be had. Work that paid was another matter all together.
There was the first couple of weeks in July when the neighbor who grew Christmas trees invited us to help them trim the trees (No, not trimming like decorating them. I should probably say shaping the trees, but we always referred to it as trimming the trees). We walked around each tree with a machete cutting in a downward angle to conform the tree to the desired shape (of course we had a leg guard on our lead leg for protection).
The only offering of any paying, steady work was located a mile and a half to the west of the farm: the Big Prairie/Everett Cemetery. The two townships that bordered each other there banded together many generations before to provide a burial-place for their residents after they could no longer pay their taxes (I know that sounds rather cold, but it’s the only way I could think of wording it that would add any humor to the situation).
Of course the main part of this job entailed mowing the lawn and trimming the bushes, so the work season only lasted from May through October (Yes, that is a short growing season for some people, but, they don’t call Michigan ‘The Winter Wonderland’ for nothing). One of the biggest advantages to working in a cemetery is that I never heard any of the residents complain about how poor of a job they felt I was doing. Actually, we got quite a compliment from the funeral people in the area; they said our cemetery ranked right up with the Fremont cemetery as the two best looking ones in the whole county.
Death is a part of life (that’s why it will show up so often in my books). But, that sounds like such an oxymoron… death is the end of life, everybody knows that. Deep down you know that isn’t true, regardless of what you’ve been taught.
DEATH… the mere mention of the word sends a chill up the back of most people. That mysterious point of no return… what really does await each of us when our appointed time comes? Jesus Christ is the only person who ever came back to life of His own volition to prove He had the power to overcome its icy grip. Those of us who have accepted His claims of being the Son of God, the promised Messiah, don’t have the same dread of the “D” word. We know that He will bring us to be with Him after our time on this Earth is complete.
Your time will come. That’s one of the realities of working at a cemetery that is entrenched into your very being. We buried the grandfather of the man who grew the Christmas trees just a few months shy of his 100th birthday. We buried young infants who had just begun their life. Then, there were the people I had personally talked to: the classmate of Mike’s who crashed his homemade buggie right down the road from the cemetery the summer after he graduated from high school; the brother of one of my best friends died in a car wreck. Your time will come.
Many generations of Websters are buried in the hallowed piece of ground. Howard Douglas ran the operation when I started there. He was in his seventies at the time. He told me about my great-great-grandfather, Dr. John Webster riding on horse back to reach his patients at their homes (I don’t think malpractice was even a word back then). Some neighboring former workers dug the grave for my Grandpa while I worked there, that was greatly appreciated. Grandma is now beside him. My Dad always hoped for a plot right next to 20th Street because he was born in a house 2 1/2 miles down the road to the East, and the farm is on that road; but that section wasn’t prepared for graves when his time came to pass into the next phase of life.
The Bible repeatedly states that people are made in the image of God. It also says in John 4:24 that God is a Spirit; therefore, there is a spirit in each of us that lives on after we die. Even as Jesus was dying on the cross He said in Luke 23:46, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” What happens to that spirit after we die is determined by one decision we make while we are alive on this Earth: what do we do with Jesus’ claims? If we deny them, ignore them, reject them, or are simply silent to them then Hell is the place that spirit spends eternity. If, on the other hand, we embrace them with our whole heart… then He will welcome us home to live on in our existence with Him forever! That decision is a personal one that each of us has to make, not making that decision is rejecting Jesus and accepting the consequences.
You’ll notice that I close each of these posts with the same phrase: “I’ll see you later.” That’s intentional… you see, it’s my prayer that everybody who reads this blog will accept Jesus as their personal Saviour so we will meet in Heaven after we step into the next phase of life. Please do that, before it’s too late… your time will come.
I’ll see you later. Wade