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When I arrive to visit my father at the cemetery, I’ve usually driven for more or less an hour, thinking about many things related to work, goals, family, and so on. Things around myself. Too much about myself, as I too often do in the rest of my life.
So, I have one rule: to keep thoughts about me out of the cemetery. Rule that I usually break, but that I try to keep in mind.
This morning, on the entrance of the cemetery, remembering that rule, a thought came to my mind: here life ends and memories begin. I don’t know why this thought came to my mind today and not in the last five years, but I can understand why.
Breaking the rule, as always, I asked myself if my father knew that I’m so irresponsible. And no, the answer is that he didn’t know. He loved me. He knew my limits, but I’m a good guy. I’m an engineer, I’m married, and I had a career, when he was with us. He couldn’t think about me as irresponsible, even if signs of it were there.
And I thought about him. Totally responsible. Another generation, maybe. Or maybe just a great person.
He made mistakes, in his life. With me too. But he was a great father. And the blood of my blood. We had very different attitudes, but – deep down – he’s still the most similar person to me that I can think about. There were only two, of us. And now I’m alone.
I just wished he was more present in some moments, with gentle guidance. He was used to letting me make my mistakes, but some of them could have been avoided. Maybe it’s exactly for this reason that I always leave the cemetery with one image in my mind, that I’ll recall further on.
With my mind indulging in those thoughts, I slip into memories of times when we were together.
To mention something, we usually spent one month at sea every summer. Secluded beaches, snorkeling, tourism, and so on. Till I was a grown boy. And I have more memories of that than I can recall. The more I get older, the more they emerge.
Now, I’m not religious. Or maybe I’m religious, but not enough to have Faith. Right or wrong that I may be, this life ends here. There will be nothing like this, anyway. What’s gone here, it’s gone. All that happened – sweet or hard – is gone.
So, what remains of my father is the love for his family, the good he did for others, the memories we have of him. The example he gave to us.
When he entered that place, a place made of stone and as alive as stone, he left life, and the time for memories began.
Hard to get, but after years, it’s time to get it. He left me an example. And remembering his example is the best way I can honor him.
At the same time, it’s time to live again, in my mind, those moments. Grateful for having had them.
And I think that if a Paradise exists, probably the truth is that we already lived there, together. Even if it wasn’t Paradise for most of the time. Even if I didn’t notice at the time.
Time to leave the cemetery, and the usual thought approaches.
The memory of him and me, walking on the beach. We were used to long walks. I was a child, so sometimes I took his hand. And I remember us so. Walking hand in hand. He was young. Strong. Reliable. Waves washing our feet, the sun welcoming and celebrating our youth.
It will always be so. As long as I live.