Today was tough. I got a call that the headstone was in place on Elbert's grave so I drove down to the cemetery. Now, I had been down there before but it didn't seem real then. Just a little green plastic frame with Elbert's name hand-written on the insert stuck in a flat rectangle of grassless soil. I didn't even cry. It just was not him.
Today was totally different. When I walked up and saw Elbert's name on his headstone I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I think I audibly let out a huge breath of air and grabbed my middle. There it was.... carved in stone... affirming that yes, Willie Elbert Barton had lived his life and now lay amid rows and rows of identical stones, all veterans who served our country.
I am so proud of what he accomplished in his lifetime. He was, too. That little ole country boy who gave over 22 years to his country and did pretty well with it all. It says on his tomb that he fought in two wars, Korea and Vietnam. It says, too, that he was a Lt. (went all the way up the ranks from seaman apprentice to Lt.) Yep, I am very proud of him. And, there it is... engraved on his headstone. But, it doesn't say anything about what kind of man he was or how much he loved his family or his God.
When asked what else we wanted engraved on the tomb (besides the essentials) the family talked it over and decided that 'love and honor' pretty much summed that man up from beginning to end. He loved life, he loved us all, he loved God and his country, he just loved the very air he breathed. Nothing much bothered that man, he was always smiling and happy.
And, Honor. He honored his family by being the best he could be. He honored God by trying to live the life God would have wanted him to and he fought and served with honor for his country.
Yep, the tears flowed and I cried all the way home.