Friday, September 15, 2006

Hobart, With a Bit of Philosphy

First, a few snapshot impressions of our visit to my hometown, Hobart, Indiana.

Hobart is middle America, a bedroom town to the steel mills of Gary back when I was a kid and even now, after all of these years not changed all that much. Many of the storefronts have downtown are different, but the overall impression of sleepy two-story business buildings remains the same.

We stopped by the Augustana Lutheran Church and thanked the secretary there for the kind help she had given us in looking up information about my mother Eunice. Actually, it was not the church where I had been baptized -- they had moved from the original church some 40 odd years ago and the old building is now being used for other purposes and has been totally remodeled inside -- so, hopes that sitting in the old pews might jog memories were dashed.

With the directions we had received from the church secretary, it was easy to find my mother's grave. Marked with a modest gravestone showing only name and year of birth and death, her grave is next to but slightly separated from that of my grandfather, Charles Edward, and his wife Amanda whose gravestones are exactly the same except for inscriptions.

I sent the others away, so that I could be alone. There were tears of course, but I learned years ago that is first for ourselves that we cry. I closed my eyes and tried to bring her picture up from the single photograph I have of her. Then, a bit off key and choked up at the start, I gave her the flower I had prepared by quietly singing "Soft, Sweet Summer Nights". Then I thanked her for watching over me all those years, and that was that. I opened my eyes and reality took over.

My cousin who was with us along with his wife, struck up a conversation with the groundskeeper who is a retired policeman working part time at the cemetery. The conversation turned to my cousin's younger brother, David. This is the same David mentioned in my aunt Helen's poem "An Analogy" mentioned earlier.

David was killed, along with two other boys, not long before his 15th birthday in a traffic accident on the way to school. The car in which they had hitched a ride to school was speeding and ran off the road on a curve on Ridge road and landed on its roof in a ditch.

As there had been another recent accident where young girls were killed, it was a shock to have so many youngsters killed in such a small town as Hobart. The driver of the car survived but killed himself shortly before the 2nd anniversary of the accident.

As we were talking about these things, suddenly the groundskeeper said, "Well, it's a small world, [the name of the driver] was my brother" and he and my cousin Keith shook hands.

Indeed, it is a small world and as I can never tire of telling anyone who will listen, we are united in our common humanity. In fact, unless this fact somehow becomes a common realization there is little, if any, hope for our survival as a species.

As there is little likelihood that the Alien Veggies will land like they did in the Third Galaxy and put things right, we must learn to work out our disagreements with out violence being the prime method of resolving them.

When you get down to the nitty-gritty, the choice, as Martin Luther King put it, is between "Nonviolence and nonexistence".

No comments: