WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Death is a part of life

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

It was a blustery, cloudy day in March when I found myself on a highway I usually don’t traverse. Yes, I knew my way because this road was one of my youth. It crossed the little towns and communities in the countryside of Grayson and Fannin counties.

And it also led to my parents' gravesites…

I wasn’t thinking about them as I drove to my destination; I was just driving to get where I was going. Then, it hit me where I was; and the overwhelming realization was that I am not there enough. I understood that it had been only the second time I had been in the vicinity since my father died in 2015. I knew I had to make the short detour and stop; pay my respects as I should have been doing all along.

I turned on the appointed country road and began the winding trek to a little-known graveyard (Aren’t they all ‘little-known’ except to the people who have loved ones buried there?) where I entered the chain link fence. I parked out of the way of other possible visitors. I then went straight to their resting places; they had chosen well…a spot near the fence – easy to remember; easy to see – out in the open on a hill.

My parents – Billy and Pat Wilder – had planned early. They took the opportunity when it presented itself for a plot purchase in their early 40s. We as a family knew where they would be buried long before it was necessary. It was kind of a blessing and a curse to know; something you don’t like thinking about, but know you need to at least at a specific time. They were offered spots for all seven of us; and they took that deal, regardless if we children ever needed it.

They wanted peace in knowing family could be together even in eternity, although it was unlikely with future marriages and relocations. I remember liking that feeling as well, but I didn’t dwell on it; I had living to do first.

As I stood there overlooking the vast valleys and rolling hills, I also noted that they picked well the spot where they would spend eternity. It was beautiful even in the cloudy haze and windy conditions; even in the winter-like setting just before spring takes over. I knew I should come back in a month if only for the view; it would be spectacular then.

The single tombstone gave their life’s basic information along with our names on back; their children. The artificial flowers were still in place; and the live ones also seemed to thrive even though spring was still a few days away. The gravesite looked good; it represented lives well-lived.

I looked again at the view and recalled a conversation I had with my mother years after the purchase. She had said it was the view that ‘sold’ them on the idea; in death, they could always look out over the countryside and be blessed in eternity in heaven and earth. As I looked across the land, I felt her truth and conviction; and I realized she was right—What a view!

Although I am in my sixties now, I still don’t think of burial plots and burial insurance; I know I should, but it still seems far off (even though I know life is short and can end at any time). Perhaps it is the security of knowing I can be buried on that vista in the country by my parents that lets me procrastinate. Maybe, my parents knew this, too. They are still taking care of us even in death.

Death is a part of life, even though it is a mystery and will only be revealed when we are no longer living. We make plans, which is fine and appropriate, but the living is paramount. Yet, I am still glad my parents did it right – for all of us; even if I am not with them on that hill atop a crest in the waves of green that punctuates the very life of earth herself.

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.