Friday, May 27, 2016

An Angel in the cemetery

I'm not sure how many people pray while they're driving to visit a cemetery but I did today. The last time I was there the grass hadn't been cut in awhile; I hated the thought of having to use my utility scissors to remedy that. I prayed I would have the physical strength to get this done in a timely manner so I'd still have time to get home to mow our own yard to help out my husband. 
   After 5 years of hand issues I knew, at best, it would be a physical challenge for me to fix my mom's grave with flowers the way I envisioned it. But I really wanted to surprise my dad with having it done for the next day. My friend makes this gardening thing look so easy, so I thought what I lacked in strength and skill I'd make up in determination. 
   I was relieved as I pulled into the driveway to find it had been mowed.  'Thank you God! One thing out of the way!'  I had my car packed with everything I thought I'd need. Buckets of dirt, flowers, water, black cloth & some tools I don't know the names of.  I set to work as I prepped the area.  The beautiful morning sunshine fueled my energy to accomplish my task.  From the car radio I heard the Danny Gokey song, "Tell your heart to beat again" and it felt like an approving hug from God that it was going to work out ok. Just a couple weeks ago my youngest granddaughter had sung that for me to encourage me through the month of May.
   I found out very quickly just how hard the ground was when the edger tool I had, along with my less than stellar arm strength, barely broke through the blades of grass let alone the dirt! So using it as I'm sure it wasn't intended, I sawed at the dry hard ground with the corner of it. I was quite proud at my ingenuity until I went to place the plastic edging border into it & I couldn't get it to go in. I struggled with it for what seemed like a long time. I'm not sure if the heat I felt rising in me was from the sun beating down or my frustration with every minute that ticked by.
  About this time I saw a truck towing lawn mowers driving through. I motioned to the two burly men to stop. I asked them if either of them had any experience with placing this edging material and could they please give me any tips to accomplish this feat.  They proceeded to tell me it required a lot of digging with a shovel. I told them I didn't have a shovel but I had done the best I could with the edger tool to make the V shape in the ground they spoke of. As they inched away from me they responded with the ever-so helpful (dripping with sarcasm) reiteration that it would take a lot of digging with a shovel. And real or imagined, as they pulled away I think I heard them snickering.
  I plopped down on the ground in the midst of my mess there, by this time tears flowing. I didn't want to leave it looking the way it did. I so wanted to surprise my dad. Dear God, why couldn't I do this simple thing? I didn't want to quit either but I recognized in reality the job was going to require more strength than just my meager determination. So I decided to do the best I could which meant forgoing the thought of being able to use the plastic border to hold the good dirt in the place I wanted to plant.
  The 1 1/2 hours passed quickly as I struggled to use the breeze as a helper for getting the black weed barrier cloth laid down. I attempted to hold the cloth down by sticking it indents I'd previously made. But just as soon as I'd get one side stuck in, that same breeze blew up the other side...wash, repeat. haha  I did finally get it to stay by just dumping a bunch of my good dirt on it. I was hot, frustrated and hurting by this point.
  That's when a slow moving car came driving through. It stopped with the man & his wife asking if the owners of the cemeteary had quit taking care of it; in reference to all the piles of dead grass laying around. I told them this was actually better than a couple weeks ago but that since my mom had only passed last year I didn't have any real history of knowledge with its care. They told me they come from Beaver County once a year on the Memorial Day weekend.
  We had a nice little chat and one thing led to another as they noticed my tools sitting there etc...I asked if they were gardeners & added that I wasn't.  The husband asked to see what I had done so I moved aside & moved my tools etc. so he could.  Then I saw the wife look over at him using hand gestures that I also recognized as I've done the same to my husband. He then called out the window, "can I give you a hand?  I have all my tools with me!"
  They were so very kind. I'm sure it took restraint not to laugh at my poor attempt that was before him. He even tried his best not to hurt my feelings as he delicately asked if I'd ever planted anything in a cemetery before. haha ( I had legitimate & convincing reasons for the placement where I did that might be out of the norm)   I know he didn't want to make me feel more inadequate than I already did.  
  The planting I had done on the black cloth DID make it easier for him to just slide the whole thing off intact though! haha  He pulled out his industrial edger, his shovel & this claw thing that twisted & broke up the ground like nobody's business.  He was accomplishing in minutes what I couldn't do in hours! And he was doing it with such ease!
 Oddly enough when he saw the last name on the tombstone he asked if I had a relative named Rich. I said no, but I had a brother named Rick. He asked if he was a trucker with a particular company? I said yes! He knew my brother!! And here he was up from Pittsburgh on his once a year trek in a little country cemetery outside a little podunk town, helping this trucker friend's sister!!  WHAT are the chances?! 

  He told me to make sure I pass it on someday when I see someone in need. I told him that is how I already try to live my life. He mentioned that what goes around comes back around. I told him that's how I felt too and why I felt they showed up when they did. I told him I had prayed for strength & help and God sent it to me in the form of an earthly angel named Dan along with his helpmate Gloria.

It was the best day I've had in a long time.

 2 Corinthians 12:10 "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."