Sunday, May 4, 2014

"They Say This Was Just A Hobo"

A couple miles from my house, a dirt road wanders through hundreds of acres of logged timberland.  As far as the eye can see, it is a desolate and barren landscape.  In the distance, the ribbon of dusty road, like a necklace, circles a small hill showing signs of spring green amidst the sea of gray.  Atop the hill is a small, country graveyard with stones both old and new.  
I was struck by the number of markers placed during the 1920's.  Many of them were homemade.  Too many of them were toddlers and babies and I thought of the tales my mother told of growing up during the Great Depression.
I thought of the hardships and the heartache and I wondered what these people would think of us today, with our cars and computers, cell phones and medical services.  I considered that they would have no understanding of our complaints and remembered my mother telling me that her family never thought of themselves as "poor" even when her sisters took turns going to school because they only had one pair of shoes between them.
I found myself admiring that past generation, the people who bore hardship we can only imagine and bore it with dignity. 

Then, I came upon the stone that twisted my thoughts and my heart in ways that I can't explain.
  "They say this was just a hobo".  
A nameless someone.  Like soldiers in unmarked graves.  The anonymity of it all.  To be a son, a brother, perhaps a father and to die unknown, among strangers. 
And then my thoughts took a different path; the strangers had laid him to rest.  They had provided the grave and the casket and they stood at his side, and someone made a stone and hand-chiseled all they knew to say about this man.  
Those who had so little, paid tribute to one who had even less.  
I was touched and compelled to share.

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