December was a monumental month for my brother, Meredith and me. He turned eighty and I turned seventy. This goes beyond senior citizens. It is very old! But like the immortal and late Minnie Pearl of the Grand Ole Opry, “We’re proud to be here!”
Everyone in our family knows the work ethic of my brother, and anyone who knows him well can vouch for that. The project we found ourselves involved in last Saturday goes back to a phone call between us a week or so before then. I had informed him of a tree problem at the cemetery where our Grandparents and their two tiny infants are buried.
He told me they were going to Orlando to visit their children and grandchildren, before returning to his son’s home near Cordele to paint the inside of his house for him. To us, it seemed status quo for my hard-working brother who at 80 can outwork most people twenty years younger than he is.
“When I finish painting his house for him, I’ll come on up there and we’ll take our two chain saws and take care of the tree problem,” he said. I had all the confidence in the world that we would indeed be able to take care of the tree problem. He never sees a task that he can’t handle. I knew I would serve in a backup role, because he knows one speed—wide open.
We arrived at the burial place of our kindred dead, and while I was pouring fresh fuel into my saw, I heard the unmistakable sound of his Homelite roaring as the limbs began to fall. Two pulls later and my Stihl saw roared its own growl. Two old men and their saws showed the cedar tree who was boss as we applied a fresh trimming to the offending evergreen. Shortly thereafter, the limbs which had been threatening to take over the four graves lay still on the ground. Next, my sister-in-law, Jenny and Sheila assisted us in dragging the limbs away from the burial sites. A few more necessary trimmings of limbs which may have had future plans to grow in that direction were unceremoniously hacked away while the women folk applied some elbow grease with a steel brush and some bleach to the headstones which had been losing the battle to the dank mildew which had been left alone for too long.
Soon, we took out some portable chairs to sit for a spell and rest. I told you we were a couple of old men with chain saws, but even we needed to take blow for a few minutes.
As I looked at the restored gravesites of Mama and Papa, as our grandparents were called when they walked the Earth, I couldn’t help but think how pleased they must be that someone still cares enough about their final resting place to beautify it for them. It felt good to my big brother and me to be able to do it.