A few weeks ago, my parents came to visit. Sometimes, they come just to visit, but this time, they had a bit of an agenda – or at least my Dad did. Dad has created himself a little “bucket list” – some things he wants to accomplish before he dies. We’re hopeful, of course, that his death is a long time off, but I can understand his desire to see and do some things while he still has good health.
There were two things Dad wanted to see during this trip. One was a bridge he had built many, many years ago on the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Belleville Subdivision, east of Agincourt yard in Scarborough, north of what is now the Metro Toronto Zoo. At that time, the Canadian National was creating a new track that would lead from Pickering to Vaughan, and CN had to cut underneath the CP – thus the need for a bridge. As Dad and I stood looking at that bridge, he told me stories so vivid that it was as if I were looking at the sight in front of me in black and white. I could see the equipment cutting through the fields, down about fifty feet, so that the new bridge could be put in place. It was neat to see my Dad so nostalgic.
The other thing Dad wanted to see on this trip was a grave marker in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto. It was not that of a family member, or anyone either Mom or I knew. The grave we would seek out was that of Dad’s boss from his first ‘serious’ job. The man had died in 1959 (quite prematurely, of cancer), but Dad had always spoken very warmly of the man, as if he had been a lifelong friend. In fact, Dad had probably known him seven or at most eight years. But his boss had believed in him, and had treated him with kindness and respect. The man saw potential in this young 17-year-old, giving him challenge after challenge, and placing him in ever-more responsible positions.
Why did Dad want to visit his boss’ grave? I never asked him, but I’m pretty sure his motive was gratitude. He was grateful to the man who believed in him, who saw in him the potential for more than just a job, but a career.
I couldn’t help but brush away a tear as I watched my Dad dig, with his bare hands and a small stick, a hole deep enough to plant a small flowering plant in front of his boss’ grave marker. Dad had gotten his hands dirty in the employ of this man when he was alive, and even after his death.
It’s never too late to show gratitude.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18, NIV).