The Gross National Debt

Friday, March 11, 2011

A moment of irrationality

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know this is possibly irreverent, probably offensive and definitely illogical, but it's still the way I feel about it and there is nothing you can tell me that will change my mind. Nothing.

You may even think it is foolish. Logic, as I said, has no bearing on this one. Rationality is not part of this equation. This may not even make sense.

Put this in words has been stewing around in what passes for my brain for a while. I'm finally getting around to putting it down. Why I haven't before now, damfino.

(and you say "Hurry up already and get to the point, Baker."

and I reply, "I'm gonna tell this my way and if you don't like it, quit reading it thankyouverymuchforasking. Now, if you are QUITE done interrupting...)

In my community there is a graveyard. Nothing unusual there. There are, in fact, a number of cemeteries in the county where I live. Again, standard.

These cemeteries are entirely ordinary. Nothing at all unusual. Rows of graves, tombstones, markers and monuments.

Some of these cemeteries had not had an addition in years. Some have additions several a week. Again, standard stuff.

Just trying to put into your mind that these cemeteries are absolutely normal, the likes of which can be found everywhere.

Now I have to engage in one of my gear-grinder moments to tell you a story. Two in fact. I decline to provide actual names 'cause you don't need 'em and in one case names would be a mistake, in my opinion. The stories are quite real.

So, meet Fred. Or rather since Fred is dead you can't meet him. What you can know is Fred died here and was buried here. Fred, being homeless and on a variety of public assistance programs as his sole means of support was a total and complete charity case.

Fred got sick in another community. Fred's relatives, no closer than an uncle, refused to take him in. Fred being as sick as he was could not live on his own and so was placed in a nursing home.

Being a charity case/on public assistance, a search was put out to find a nursing home which could take him.

My community's nursing home had room.

Fred arrived. A few days later, a week I think, Fred died.

With no family willing to claim him and his sole material possession the clothes he was wearing and a minor amount of other worldly possessions, it fell to the taxpayers of my community to foot Fred's funeral bill.

Now, meet Jim. Jim was not even a teenager when he died. Jim died in the presence of family and was practically surrounded by family all through the time his corporeal remains were above ground.

Jim was put to earth here surrounded by family who paid for his funeral services. No cost to taxpayers involved at all.

Jim's family is not from here. They moved here from another town a good distance away. He and his family did not live here very long, certainly not long enough to form any lasting and lifelong bonds with people here.

Not long after Jim's funeral, the family packed up and left. Jim's folks separated too, going their separate ways, even leaving the state.

Have you figured out what links these two cases?

Refer back to paragraphs one and two periodically in case you think what I'm about to say is the very acme of idiocy.

Fred and Jim were laid to rest among strangers. No family. No friends.

I know no one has bothered to visit Fred. No one cared when he was alive.

I'm fairly certain in the years since Jim's family hied to points yonder, they have not been back to the gravesite. I'll equally bet you they "intend" to come back, but the road to Hell and all that. Maybe they never do intend to come back. I don't know which is more disturbing to me.

Meantime, Fred and Jim are alone. Sure, the cemetery is maintained, mowed, weeded and so forth. Maybe a stranger every now and then will pause and wonder who lies beneath.

But they are alone. In the years to come, they will be ever more alone as the memory of their existence in my community fades and dies with those who recall the two people. No one will come look for them to do geneaology because they have no descendants. I mean no harm in saying this, nor do I pun, but they are a dead end.

Their remains lie amid strangers. They have no relatives to the north, south, east or west in the tiny real estate plots.

Their relatives, such as they are, have gone on with their lives. When those lives come to an end, they will be buried elsewhere.

And so, the last link for them is severed and they will be alone in a way that bothers me even more. The present circumstances have bothered me enough to keep me awake at night every great once in a while.

At this, Fred and Jim are not unique. Cemeteries in every community in the nation have the exact same stories. Only the names change.

I think of my own Dad who rests at the foot of his parents. Grandma and Grandpa are also surrounded by relatives and friends from a lifetime of living in the community together. They are not alone. if Jesus doesn't come back before I'm done, I will be buried there, among family and some friends. Whether or not my gravesite is ever visited thereafter, well it doesn't matter because I have family nearby.

That matters to me. It may not matter to you, but then you ain't me.

But Fred and Jim, yes they are alone. Condemning myself, I tell you I have no idea where Fred's grave is. I have a fair idea of where Jim rests, but I have visited neither. I never saw Fred, much less met him. I only learned of his existence after it ended. Jim I knew. Not well, but in my line of work I got to meet him. Somewhere in the back issues of the newspaper I run, there is proof that I met Jim, proof in the form of a picture which I took and published.

Part of me doesn't want to visit their graves. I fear if I do, I will look upon it as a demand, something I will have to do on a regular basis. I don't want that kind of onus.  It should not be a dreadful burden; it should be something approached with not really joy, but not as an obligation either.

At the same time, I am ashamed to feel that way. These two people, in my mind, did nothing to deserve being left alone. Surely they deserve someone. I try to convince myself it's not my job to be there, but I don't believe it. Neither can I bring myself to approach the task with the right frame of mind.

With the wrong mindset, to me, it is worse to go to their grave than to never visit. So I stay away and mentally berate myself for it. And every so often, I stay up at night because of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi. I welcome lively debate. Attack the argument. Go after a person in the thread, your comments will not be posted.