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The Final Bench

“Just Keep Walking”

By Mary HaynesPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read
The Final Bench
Photo by Vasilis Caravitis on Unsplash

There are moments in life that sneak up on you! You’re sailing along in life sometimes figuratively, and in my case often literally and then it happens, boom! And even though I’ve smashed my head on our actual sailboat boom many times, its was a “spiritual” boom that sent me reeling.

Once again, finding myself living in another new town, I took one of my long stress release walks. I found a conservation park with a trail that ran along the lakeside. New territory to explore was an upside of my all too frequent moves. I noticed my shoelace was untied, and I stopped at the side of a wooden bench to tie it.

As I raised my foot to steady it on the bench, I noticed a small plaque inscribed with “In loving memory of our mother!” The inscription also contained the woman’s name and an invitation to sit and enjoy the view.

Sitting is something I almost never do on my outings, because my motto is to “just keep walking,” but I took a seat. I stared out at the view, there was nothing in sight except calm water. The sun, glinted off gentle ripples created by a mild breeze. I looked overhead and observed the blue sky. The occasional puffy white cloud peeked through the undulating green and yellow leaves of a huge willow tree. The left side of the trail curved slightly away from the lake. I could see the selection of native pollinators planted along each side, and watched the dappled light play on the butterfly bushes, brown eyed Susans, and scarlet sumacs.

From the right, I heard the sound of children’s laughter and saw a family with two small children. The little girl skipped ahead, while the parents swung her little brother between them, each holding one little hand.

It was a full circle moment. I recalled the joy of doing that as a child with my parents, walking like that with my own kids, and then watching them with theirs.

By Ioann-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash

Memories played in my head in a loop that was too fast! I tried to slow it down, to savour the special moments, but there were too many memories and the reel kept racing by.

Time passes, people in our lives pass, so too will I pass. It’s inevitable, part of the cycle.

So, sitting there on this memorial bench. I pondered what my funeral arrangements would be like. I’d moved too many times to really call any place home. Except for family visits, I haven’t spent time in my small hometown since 1975, so where would a funeral even be held? Who would attend?

My parents, aunts and uncles had been gone for many years. There are few friends who keep in touch via social media, but they’re scattered all over the globe. My partner, my brothers, nieces and nephews would attend if it was back “home” and and my kids and grandkids would fly in for a brief family reunion.

My old romantic notion of how I had wanted my funeral to be made me chuckle. In my imagination, teary-eyed people said goodbye while my coffin was rolled down the aisle, as the church organist played, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” by Procol Harum. Yeah, not going to happen, besides in my family someone would find the humour in it, and at least half of them would be laughing. We’re the type you can’t sit next to at funerals.

By Gabriele Strasky on Unsplash

My kids and grandchildren live in another country and in two different states. They certainly don’t need the hassle. I have no pre-bought cemetery plot nor any particular location in mind.

So the next time my kids ask what kind of arrangements they should make. I’ll tell them make it cheap, quick and easy! Scatter me, argue about custody of the urn, make me into newfangled glass ornaments. I don’t care. But find a good time to get together for that family reunion. Raise a glass, laugh too hard and let the cousins run amok!

However if they feel they would like to memorialize me, a little bench might be nice. Somewhere overlooking the water, please, any water, anywhere.

But not IN the water. I briefly thought about suggesting one of new man made memorial reef’s people are buying, but what if I’m still afraid of sharks? 🦈😜

By Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández on Unsplash


About the Creator

Mary Haynes

Mary Haynes splits her time between a romantic old sailboat in tropical waters and a beach home in Ontario. A wanderer, by fate, she embraces wherever she roams! Mary recently completed her first children’s book, “Who Ate My Peppers?”

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Comments (3)

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  • Mike Saundersabout a year ago

    Love this story Mary. Made me reflect.

  • Quincy.Vabout a year ago

    a grt piece and well written................

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    A memorial bench would be very comforting. Nice piece, I think we all begin to question our mortality at some point.

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