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An Unobstructed View

On iOS, the operating system for the iPhone, you’ll get a reminder on the birthdays of your friends and family to give them a call or a text. This is controlled by Siri, but it works by looking at the contact cards you have in your phone for birthdays you’ve put in for those contacts.

The reminder lingers on your lock screen for the entire day until you’ve taken care of it. Most of the time this is a good thing. But, what if this reminder is for someone who has passed away?

My father would have been 74 yesterday. He passed away December 2006, making this the third birthday of his I’ve encountered since. The first one was the roughest. I had just experienced a memorial service for him a month before at his property in Baldwin County, Alabama, which was delayed until the spring to accommodate everyone who wanted to be involved. From there, my mom, brother, dad’s widow, and I drove back up to Nebraska with dad’s ashes. They are now buried next to his mother at a cemetery near Hebron.

Since, I’ve made visits down to Hebron around his birthday, Fathers’ Day, and Veterans Day, since he proudly served in the US Navy. Each visit and remembrance have gotten easier has time has moved on. The thing about me is I’m big on dates like this. They hold a lot of weight with me. But, the thing about my visits to Hebron is they give me an opportunity to talk. It’s the talks I miss the most. The same days I visit are typically the same days I would call.

When I go down there, I say hello, then I tell dad what’s been going on with me. Then I take in the open landscape of southern Nebraska. The cemetery itself is enclosed by trees on all but the south side, just like the property he lived on in Alabama. The hills are much more defined in Nebraska, however. The landscape is much more open. For miles you can see sunbeams bursting through the clouds onto the land below as they track across those hills. Unlike where I live in Lincoln, you can see thunderstorms a good 50 miles out or so. It’s stunning.

Then there’s the sounds of the birds and other animals surrounding the place. Everything is so unfiltered that you can hear a particular vehicle sometimes for miles before the sound fades. My father told be before how he could hear the Blue Angels taking off for their Tuesday and Wednesday practices from Pensacola NAS 20 miles or so away on his old property. These are things you simply don’t notice in an urban environment. My father loved his land, so I feel like there’s a definite piece of him at his final resting place. I know he would be happy where he ended up.

Tomorrow, I plan on taking that drive down to Hebron again. I’ll absorb every bit of that drive in, taking in the unobstructed view of the plains. Most importantly, I’ll get to talk.