He stood tall, proud, and unhappy. The brass, silver, and gold trimmings on his uniform glistened in the early morning sunlight. The morning dew reflected off his black boots as it clung to the freshly cut green grass. Headstones seemed to stand taller and more formidible, as if at attention to his presence. His cracked and aged face was cleanly shaven, and strong, attentive, but his battle scarred ears did not hear the song sung by the bluebird that morning. His blue eyes pearced the cemetery scanning for signs of life. They found none. For thirty minutes, not one second more or less, he stood over the grave of his son who had lost a great battle. In the end, he had fought harder than he ever had. But it was too little too late. He thought of the last words he had heard from his son, “I should have listened. I’m sorry dad. You always tried to teach me not to put things off. You always said it would catch up with me. It did, and it piled up and because I turned a blind eye to my condition, I am in this mess.”
The general about faced and marched away from the center of the cemetery. He thought of his own last words to his son. “Enough worry now, son, you’ve seen more and done more in your short life than I ever had a chance to do in mine. Sometimes the things we don’t see often sneak up on us and we think we should do more but life has a way of slowing us down when we least expect it. It’s God’s doing and there isn’t much we can do but salute and follow Him into the light. As he made the long march down the white pebbled lane something to his right caught his eye. Movement. Light flashing. He halted, swivled his head, and he saw a young man with a camera.
The morning sun was glancing off the lens like a very slow strobe light. He called to the man. The man approached. They shook hands and became aquainted. The young man learned his story and why he was there to see his son. Then the young man showed him the pictures he’d been taking. He saw himself standing at attention, saluting over his son’s grave. This was not new and not surprising. What was unexpected was the shadow just behind his son’s tombstone, as if his son was standing there saluting back.