In 2002, Mother died. I used to drive my Dad over to the cemetary to visit the graves, change the flowers.
One day, Dad decides it's time for him to tell me his wishes. He starts:
D; 'Son, I want you to have a tombstone right here 'twixt me and Mother.'
S; 'Pop, if there's gonna be a rock bought, then yer gonna buy it.' (understand, please, Pop was so tight, you couldn't drive a 16 penny nail up his ass with an 8 pound sledgehammer)
D; (screeching...he could do a pretty good screech owl imitation) Goddamit, you cannot be my son! How in hell Mother and I ever raised such an ornery brat, I'll never know!
S; 'Listen to yourself. I don't want a tombstone. I'm being cremated. A stone would be a waste of money.'
D; (still screeching, gets into truck) 'Take me the hell home! I don't even want to talk to you!'
So we go home. I dismiss the matter. Time passes. Dad dies a couple of years later. I'm cleaning up his house to sell. For years...as long as I can remember, and I'm over 50, Dad has had Great Grampaw's footstone from his first grave laying around his back yard. When Great Grandpaw died, Great Grammaw had him buried in the little cemetary near their farm. Later, I think after she remarried, maybe she got the guilts or something, but she moved him to a much nicer cemetary near a larger town. When they moved his carcass, they left his footstone. It had his initials on it. Dad took it; he was kinda the 'history keeper' of the family.
I took Great Grandpaw's footstone. I thought it would be a durable memento, and a piece of family history. Once in awhile, I get sentimental, I guess. More time passes....
A friend of mine from Denver visits. We're walking around my place-she's never been here since I moved. She sees Great Grandpaw's footstone behind the chicken house.
Friend; 'What's that?'
I explain to her. She already knew the story of Dad getting upset about me not having a tombstone.
She gets this funny look on her face, and says: 'Why don't you use the reverse to put your name and whatever you want on it. That would be a tie to the past, and would honor your Father's wishes.'
I about fell over....what a perfect idea!
A couple years ago, I went to see a young feller over near town who engraves tombstones. I told him I wanted my name, 'Loving Son' and 1952-2007 on the stone.
He looked puzzled. 'Why 2007? You aint dead.'
Me; 'No, but there won't be nobody to give a shit when I croak. I don't want to saddle nobody with remembering to have my death date put on no stone, nohow. 'Sides, all them nitwits I went to high school with will sometime see it and go 'Dang! He's dead! I went to high school with him!' ' (because I've done that very thing myself...)
You could see his face start to change...he says 'That's pretty sly! I really like that...'
And so, we did. I placed it right between Mom and Dad's graves a couple weeks ago.
Dedicated to Eileen for the excellent idea to use Great Grandpaw's stone! Thank you!