Tombstones Don’t Talk

A young meth addict misses his court date, and his bail bondsman turns her bounty hunters loose to protect her bond.  They find him living with his elderly parents.  The take down is ferocious to protect everyone involved.  Hand cuffed, he is put in the middle back seat of the SUV, and given a chance to say good-by to his white-haired father.  They are all shaken, scared, and emotional.  It’s obvious to the bounty hunters that despite his earlier promises made to the bail bondsman, he is still using meth.  They can smell it on him.
The younger bounty hunter tries to get through to him; he is now in big trouble, but still has a chance to turn around if he can realize it will take everything he’s got.  The bounty hunter says
“One day you’re gonna try to explain yourself to your father’s tombstone and then how are you gonna feel?  Tombstones don’t talk back.  You better do it now, in life.”
Who knew a bounty hunter in his late twenties could be such a sage?
As a pastor, I have sat with my share of grieving families as they have prepared to bury a loved one; so I get this, I take it to heart.  But now that I’m dying with ALS, the practice of it has taken on new meaning for me and my family.  Recently my oldest sat down in my study and said, “Dad, this is what I want and need from you.”. So now, we make time to watch baseball together, learn to drive the truck together, and even take a road trip.
Through this I’ve become aware that “tombstones don’t talk back” is true for both the daisy side, and the dirt side of the grave.  Any conversation I need or want to have, any time I want to spend with someone, has to be now; and, I realize I have an obligation to make myself available to others.  I’ve had to go from knowing something to be true, to making time to practice it.  It’s so easy to get into familiar personal routines molded around my interests, comfort, and preferences.  “Tombstones don’t talk back” means I need to spend less time in my personal cocoon, and be more intentional about spending time with all my family.  When my kid wants to sit down while I’m struggling to eat breakfast and show me all 251 pictures she took the day before of six different subjects, that has to be my focus.  If my family is in the living room watching some girlie movie, I need to choose to be there instead of watching baseball.  On the flip side, my family is getting better at coming in to see what I’m doing, what I’m watching.  My wife will come in and watch baseball with  me, something we haven’t done in years.  My youngest has decided she and I need to watch the Clone Wars animation series together, and orders to CD’s from Netflix.  The greater task now is to apply “tombstones don’t talk” to others outside the circle of my immediate family.
A large part of that will be continuing to write.  I ask for your continued prayers that I will have the diligence to keep writing as it becomes increasingly more physically difficult to do so.

2 thoughts on “Tombstones Don’t Talk

  1. Thanks, Tom. Having just officiated at a large family funeral for an “elderly” lady in our church, this really rings true. Don’t we all die too soon? No one is “old enough” to die. There’s always just one more sunset, just one other talk with your kid. Thanks for a message that rings true for all of us.

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