Feeling Melancholy


It’s been a quiet start to the week in Fayette County. It’s raining today, but that’s nothing new. There’s been so much water coming down over the past couple of months that I’m mowing over mushrooms whenever I manage to find enough of a dry stretch to pull the mower out of the garage. If it rains another few days, I think I’m going to clear out a patch down the hill and try to grow some rice…

Actually, I shouldn’t be here today. I should be 650 miles from here, attending a funeral for a family member I hadn’t seen in probably 15 years. Obviously we weren’t all that close but, no matter where I’ve lived over the years, I received a Christmas card from him and his wife, addressed to the current address. No one else ever managed that. Sure, it’s not an important aspect of his life, but it’s one of the stories that come to mind in thinking about him.  And that’s what really matters about our lives – the stories that we leave behind, the memories that we’ve created in others throughout the time they’ve known us.

I have excuses for not being there.  I only found out about it 36 hours in advance – a challenge inherent in a family that’s so spread out. If one person doesn’t get the message right away, the process of informing others down the list gets delayed.  Apparently I’m not expected to be there either. I’m listed as an honorary pallbearer in the program – something that was decided before I even knew he had passed away.  But I should be there anyway.

The team that reports to me at work is going through a very difficult time right now.  But that’s just another excuse.  Because they could struggle through it without me.  After all, when my time comes, I don’t want people talking about how punctual I was, or how I never called in sick. Life’s not about simply showing up where we’re supposed to be each day. It’s about the reasons we have for not being there.

One of the best work days I ever had was when I was called only a half hour into my day to help someone get a car out of the impound lot after it had been towed off of a snowy street.  I took off immediately, spent the morning helping out, spent a long lunch break with the car’s owner (some cheering up was required after a day’s start like that), and then lunch turned into a long, fun afternoon.  And I made it back to work just in time to log out, grab my laptop and head home. If I’d gotten in trouble, so be it. That day is far more memorable than the thousands of days of meetings and spreadsheets that surround it.

But I digress…

I should be there. I should be sharing the few stories I have about my uncle, listening to everyone else’s stories, and laughing and smiling about everything that made up his life.
I should be there. But I’m thinking about him, and the rest of his family is in my prayers. Mentally, I’m there…

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