It’s a small house, on a huge lake. A house he added onto himself over the years, and where he raised his family. He worked hard, Raymond did. Partied hard, too. He loved to hunt and fish, and as the minister said at the service, he worked partly to be able to afford his pleasures. He built a wonderful dock and landing on the lakeshore, but not just for him. He always welcomed his friends and family to join him to fish … and eat what we caught. No one could fry fish like Raymond, and he always snuck me the first piece out of the pot. We had a beer now and then, too … or even a half-dozen. He loved having company and watching people enjoy themselves around him. One of the pictures on the slideshow my niece Tammy made up of her father’s life showed Raymond and me dancing. Hub said I grinned and shook my head every time that one flashed on the screen.
The next day after we buried Raymond, the sun came up on that beautiful lake where he lived for well over thirty-five years. The sky was still there, the sun passed across it, and the sun set. Life went on.
It makes you face your own mortality. The same thing is going to happen when you no longer see that sun come up or night fall. When you’re the one who's no longer on this side of The Veil. The more time that passes for me in this life, the more friends and loved ones I see cross before me. And … the more my priorities shift.
I had a lot to do at home. I have new books just released demanding my attention. More stories to write floundering for notice in my subconscious. But they darned sure didn’t require my time as much as my sister-in-law needed her brother and me to stay down here with her for a few days, while she adjusted to life without her husband of so many years.
I suppose you also would like to know if Raymond was at the funeral. Yes, he was. He was so clear, I kept waiting for someone else besides me to notice him. He wore his welding cap and jeans, blue and black checkered long-sleeved shirt, and looked out over the gathering. I’ll bet he was happy to see the crowd. There were so many people, it was standing room only for many. He didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to me, but he knew I was aware of him, and he smiled at me once. I imagine if anyone was watching me, they wondered why a huge grin split my face. It totally filled me with peace and happiness to see him there and have him smile at me. He walked over and kissed his wife on the forehead, then went back to stand in the alcove again. Amazing Grace was playing, and he stayed for it, then faded away.
There are lots of reminders of him here on this side of The Veil, though. Not just things, either. There are reminders of the lives he gave his family through all his blood, sweat and tears for seventy-six years. Reminders in not only their faces, but their values in life.
When his wife is ready, I’ll tell her about the last kiss. For now, rest in peace until I see you again, my brother-in-law and friend. Glad I got to meet with you one last time and share the feeling of joy you gave to those around you.