Is there anything more valuable, and sometimes more complicated, than human connections? Emotionally, humans are rather fragile wouldn’t you say? We seek reassurance and confirmation at times, and race for shelter and isolation at other times. Those of us in the end-of-life business see this played out every day.
I recently read a story which illustrates this reality in its extreme.
In the early stages of World War I, a truce was called along the battle lines in Europe to honor the Christmas holiday. Soldiers left their bunkers and met their enemy in the fighting zone. They broke bread and sang Christmas songs together. On the next day they went back to fighting.
Thank God there is Christmas! This holiday period is a reason for everyone to get a break from our human frailties. It places forgiveness and understanding at the top of the emotional chart.
One special benefit of being in a 136-year-old service business is that relationships can come back around. Oftentimes in totally unexpected ways. When I was a little boy, our parents had a housekeeper named Alberta. She was a kind, soft-spoken woman who I lost track of after I went to high school. I have thought of her often over the years, but never knew how to contact her or her children.
A few weeks back, her son walked into one of our cemetery offices to make burial arrangements for his sister Fredricka. He wasn’t even sure that the Buchanans were the right family connected with cemetery, but he asked. I remember Fredricka as a baby in our house. After 60 years, her death brought my reconnection with Alberta’s family.
I went to Fredricka’s funeral (it was not at one of our locations) and then invited Alberta’s son to lunch. When we met, he called me “a brother he never met.” He said his mother (who had died in 1983) gave my hand-me-down clothes to him which he wore with pride. She also said good things to her family about the Buchanans over the years, which warmed my heart to hear.
The thing about the present is it doesn’t last more than an instant. One could make a case that only the past and the future exist. Perhaps this is why I always seem to be planning or thinking about what comes next for me. The song about procrastination, “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, comes to mind.
I am so thankful that I was able to reconnect with the Bush family.
Bruce W. Buchanan