Home / 8/18/11 Lessons from a Gravedigger

8/18/11 Lessons from a Gravedigger

Lessons from a Gravedigger

Today’s Proverb:  Proverbs 18:9  “The one who is truly lazy in his work is brother to a vandal.”

It was the first trip to the cemetery for my two grandsons, Noah and Jude. As we got out of my truck, I knew it wouldn’t be their last.  Life is full of trips to the cemetery. Ages five and three may be young but it’s a good time to realize that life involves death.

Earlier that morning we’d ridden the four-wheeler past our dog cemetery where my beloved Ivory and Eddie are buried.  Noah and Jude asked many questions about the dogs and where they are now.

Walking now through Dry Creek Cemetery, I knew much more difficult questions were in store.   I showed them the graves of my family:  my dad (the boys loved the softball and horseshoe beside his gravemarker) as well as my grandparents and uncle and great uncle.

We made a side trip to the grave of their great-great-great-great-great grandmother, Nancy Wagnon.  I explained that her husband, Andrew Jackson Wagnon, wasn’t buried here because he’d died in the Civil War.

We made our way to the SW corner of the Cemetery where a grave was being dug for a burial later today.   Noah and Jude stared down into the yawning hole as I tried to explain how the body of Mr. John Hunt would be lowered in a coffin into that grave.

The head gravedigger,  Kevin Kingan, explained to the boys how he did his job.  His words probably will be forgotten by my grandsons, but I won’t. “Boys, I dig about four hundred graves each year and I always try to remember one thing: I try to do a great job as if this is the grave of my mother.”

He shoveled a scoop of red clay aside.  “It takes me about thirty extra minutes to do it right but I put in the extra time.  It’s worth it.”  He tamped down the dirt around the concrete vault.  “I just pretend it’s my mother’s grave.  That helps me do it right.”

I spend my days around what the world would deem simple people:  pulpwood haulers, single moms, meat cutters, dairymen, carpenters, and gravediggers.  These hard-working blue collar workers have so much to teach.

The value of an honest day’s work.  The pride of a job done well.  The reminder that this digging a grave is not just a job but an act of love toward a family of strangers.

Completed as if it was done for your mother.

Thanks Kevin for your lesson.

Ecclesiastes 9: 10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”

Colossians 3: 23-25, “Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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