My grandfather, Charles E. Lockard, died in 1964. I was just a young teenager, loving this quiet man who had preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Fairdale area and built a church where he pastored for over 20 years. When I pass by the small church, I always think of him.
In 2014 I went in search of the grave site of my grandparents. It was a walk in the cemetary to find the location, and may I tell you it was a moment of emotion as I stood there looking at two names, names of people who profoundly impacted my life.
Until recently, the tombstone that marks the final resting place of my Grandpa Lockard’s body had no death date on it. For some reason, the date was never cut into the granite stone. It was a joint stone with his wife’s and his names engraved. My grandmother died in 1951 and both her birth and death year were listed.
I’m not sure why my mother, the eldest child and executrix of the will, did not make plans for the engraving. A few years ago when I realized that task was still not completed, I began to think how I could get it done.
In 2013, my dear father died and was buried. Like my grandfather, he and my mother were side by side in death as they were in life. I was determined I would not leave his death date unknown for so many years.
I met with a funeral home and contracted for the two stones to be marked with the proper dates. I was going to check this task off my list.
Yesterday Sweet William and I went to the cemetery of my grandparents to check on the final results. Once again we walked the cemetery searching for the graves we knew to be there but somehow all the trees and bushes looked the same. Again we wandered a bit. Finally coming upon the name Lockard in large letters, there was the final death date of 1964 looking as if it had been there for 50 years rather than just a few months.
The mark was made. The stone was set. The job was complete.
Those indelible marks made in granite stone are planned to outlast me and my children and my grandchildren. Future generations will be able to see dates of long past relatives, virtually unknown to them except for the stories passed on.
But the mark on my heart and my life are even more permanent.
My grandmother, Bertha Ray Lockard, died when I was just two years old. I barely remember her. But I know her. I know her from the stories of many people who loved her. I know her from the three children she bore and raised. I know her by the wisdom she imparted to so many. Though I had little time with her, she left a mark on me.
I got to enjoy my grandfather more years. I remember him preaching in the pulpit and singing, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand.” I remember how he would come sit in the chair right next to the organ in my aunt and uncles house every time I sat there to practice. I remember how he said funny things not really meaning to, how he made pancakes for breakfast, how he could eat almost a dozen Krispy Kream donuts on the way home for Sunday night service while bringing home another dozen for the family to eat.
He also left a mark on me that is indelible. Part of who I am is because of who he was.
We leave marks on people all through our lives. Sometimes they are marks of pain, acts of abuse, emotional beatings that cut to the very quick leaving scars on a life.
But there is just as much opportunity to leave positive marks on a life. Words of encouragement, praise for a job well done, loving arms and open hearts can help heal some of those ugly scars.
I know what kind of marks I want to make.
As Sweet William and walked hand in hand out of the cemetery, I said, “One day it will be us here.” Some cemetery will hold our remains. And what will we leave behind us?
I’ve already left a lot of marks on people. I wish they had all been good, kind, loving impressions. In the time I have left on this earth, I want to remember that my actions and my words, even my attitude, are marking those with whom I live and work and those people the Lord brings into my path.
And I hope with all of my heart that the imprint left is love.