Buried With Heroes

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DFW National Cemetery is the final resting place for many servicemen and  women who have passed. Some of them served in the World Wars others in Vietnam and Korea; some were killed in action, while others lived long lives after completing duty.

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We honor them for working for the good of our country. We lionize military service. Some of the folks buried there may have acted heroically in the line of duty, some may not; it doesn’t matter one way or the other because their lives all meant something. There are siblings, children, friends, parents, & lovers buried there. They each meant something to someone in their lives.

I know I have a hero buried there.

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of his death, and I woke up with a smile on my face and peace in my heart. It would be hard to be sad with such great, loving, positive things on my mind: all the memories and lessons, whether intentionally-taught or not, that I got from my Papaw.

We were friends. I made sure of that when I was a kid, standing up in the seat of his blue Chevrolet (obviously in the days before seat belt laws), and asked, “We’re family, but we’re friends too, huh?” And he assured me that we were.

That almost sums him up perfectly: he was the type you’d want to befriend, and then he was a good friend.

He shared what he liked with the people in his life. He showed up and was supportive of what we cared about. He was honest without being harsh. And he did his best to do what he thought was right. If there’s anything else to ask of a person, I don’t know what that is. But that’s the thing: you didn’t have to ask him for any of it.

Papaw was an outpouring of goodness just by being himself. And that’s what I decided to focus on all day yesterday.

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This picture has been in my wallet since 2011.

I spent all day in peace, remembering and revisiting good, healing memories. I found myself searching for ways to be more like Papaw in my own life – more patient, less worried, more authentic. The gratitude that washed over erased so much of the hurt that used to simmer inside me, adding a new level of appreciation for the healing power of his memory.

Rather than wallowing, I am aware of the incredible blessing is it to share a part of this life with another person (and a cool dude on top of that). He left behind more good than bad and the example to do the same, and it gives me great strength to have faced such a great loss and remain standing with the resolve to create good of my own.

He didn’t ask for me, but he was everything I could have asked for.