As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:15-16
“It’s supposed to be right here somewhere.”
The two men studied the tombstones, working their way across the older part of the cemetery. The markers in this section were small, lichen-encrusted slabs of marble, a foot wide and half again as tall.
“Daddy, are you sure we’re looking in the right place?”
“This is where she said it was; third row from the back, but she couldn’t tell which plot. There was a water-stain on the page of the register.”
The old man moved slowly, eyes straining at each weather-worn inscription.
“Here it is.”
The son moved to stand beside his father and looked down.
DIED NOV 3 1926
The old man knelt, pain knifing through arthritic hip joints, and with the wire brush he carried, began to clean the small stone.
The car crept along the asphalt path. The little girl looked to the right where her father pointed. Rows of weather-stained gravestones stretched before her.
“Look on your side. Which one looks different?”
“They all look alike, Daddy.”
She spotted it at the same moment he stopped the car; not quite white, but standing out plainly from the gray slabs around it.
“There it is.”
He opened the trunk of the car and brought out a wire brush. She carried the white silk rose, and together they approached the grave.
DIED NOV 3 1926
“This is my grandma, Daddy?”
“Your Papaw Ray’s mama. She died just two weeks after he was born.”
“She has the same name as Aunt Deb.”
“He never knew where she was buried until ten or twelve years ago," the father continued. "He and I came out here one Saturday afternoon in the fall and he found it.”
“He kept it cleaned off?”
“Whenever I came home, we would come out here.”
She hugged her father, tears filling her eyes.
“Daddy, did he miss her like we miss him?”
“Yeah, I think maybe so. But he doesn't have to anymore. And someday we won't have to miss him."
The girl nodded her understanding and knelt before the little marker, running her fingers across the name on the weathered marble.
As she pushed the stem of the rose into the ground in front of the stone, he knelt and began to brush away the lichen that had grown on it since last time.