Orphan Reunion

Dad was born an orphan nearly ninety-six years ago; his father died a couple of months before he was born.

I think of that again on the morning of Dad’s funeral, while I play in the street with my grandson, Reece, Dan’s four-year-old. Dan and Christie have gone into town, looking for a black suit for Dan to wear this afternoon as pallbearer. Reece is riding his bicycle, “Look, Papa Doc. See, this is where I turn around.” He seems to know the bounds of supervised street riding. After a bit, I run back into the house to get my camera and take a few pictures, saving most of memory for the funeral.

I take several shots at the cemetery, pictures of my sons helping their cousins carry the casket, and of them singing graveside after the final prayer, along with their sister and cousins: a final honoring by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. After that, others take family photographs with Mom sitting out in front of this throng. Along with their spouses, all six children join the group where most of twenty-one grandchildren and twenty-seven great-grandchildren and their families are gathered. A southern sun burns down on us, just beyond the reach of shade from the trees that fringe the western edge of the cemetery.

The next morning, I search for my camera to take a parting picture of Reece and his mother, and discover I have left the camera at the cemetery, sitting on top of a stone. Randa and I drive over and see it sitting right where I left it. The morning sun has dried away any traces of dew and it seems to work. I take a picture of my oldest brother’s headstone and a picture of flowers laid against a fresh pile of dirt.

I stand and smile for a moment, thinking that finally Dad and Rueben can be together for more than just the few hours they shared on an April day, more than seventy years ago. Finally, both of them can be with their fathers in that place where there are no orphans.

H. Arnett
8/09/09

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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