Mr. Frank Miller stormed into my office. Maybe stormed is too strong a word, but he was evidently highly upset. When a man over eighty storms into a room, and he is your mentor, you quickly want to find out what is wrong. I didn’t have to ask as Mr. Frank got right to the point. “Curt, have you been to the cemetery?”
“No sir, at least not this week. What’s wrong?”
In my mind, I imagined desecrated graves or some such vandalism.
“So you haven’t heard—or seen—the sign the police juror has put up?”
“No sir, but—”
Mr. Frank was too upset to let me finish. “Right where you turn off to the cemetery, they’ve put up a sign that reads, ‘Dead End.’”
“Dead End! They’ve put up a sign going to the cemetery that says ‘Dead End.’ We’ll be the laughing stock of the whole world when word gets out.”
Now reader, I know you are laughing right now. I would have laughed also if I hadn’t known that Mr. Frank was ‘dead serious’ about the sign.
He continued as I tried suppressing the giggles that were spurting loose inside me. “We need to call a board meeting and do something about it. It’s unacceptable. It shows a serious lack of respect for our cemetery.”
With that, he whirled on his heel and marched out, evidently to gather a lynch mob to go to the police juror office in DeRidder.
When he left, I quickly closed my door, sat down, and laughed until I hurt.
Then I did the next logical thing—I got in my truck and drove to the cemetery. There it was at the turnoff, just past the road sign that directed drivers to Dry Creek Cemetery.
I had another good laugh.
The next day, Mr. Frank paid a return visit. He was much calmer this time because he had a plan. “Curt, I’ve thought a lot about that sign. You do remember it, don’t you?”
“Oh yes sir, Mr. Frank. I went to see it for myself.” I hoped I wasn’t smiling.
“I’ve given it some serious thought. We can compromise with the police juror. We’ll get them to replace the dead end sign with one entitled, ‘Cul de Sac.’”
I was confused. “What?”
“Cul de Sac. C-u-l d-e s-a-c. It’s French for dead end.”
I wasn’t totally stupid. I knew what a cul de sac was. It’s those circle driveways in cities that rich people usually live on.
I should not have said it, but I did. “But, Mr. Frank, most people in Dry Creek will have no idea what a cul de sac is. I believe it will cause more confusion than there is now.
“But that would be a heck a lot better than the dead end sign.”
I realized I’d probably hurt his feelings with my lack of enthusiasm for the cul de sac sign. I assured him we would get the sign removed and leave it at that.
However, before the road crew could remove the sign, it disappeared on its own. It was gone—post and all. And no one knew what had happened.
I could just see this old man driving to the cemetery turnoff late at night with his headlights off, getting out and pulling up the sign.
However, the sign was nowhere to be found, and no one said a word. I respected Mr. Frank too much to accuse him of this act.
He never mentioned the dead end sign again. However, the next year after the sign disappeared, Mr. Frank died from a stroke. What a fine funeral he had. I always thought he would have enjoyed the stories and memories that were shared.
I spoke at the service and was a pallbearer. As we drove down the cemetery road in the long procession of vehicles, I smiled as we passed the spot where the dead end sign had been.
It was gone. Tears came to my eyes, as I thought about how much I would miss my special friend. However, at the same time, I felt warm inside as I cherished all of the stories, memories, advice, and mentoring given me by this memorable man.
Then a thought came to me. A thought I believe was from the Lord. There is no “dead end sign” on the cemetery road for the believer in Jesus. The Savior’s very words at another cemetery are clear, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live again. I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
I quietly said, “Yes.”
For the believer, it is not a dead end, but a new beginning.
About two years after Mr. Frank Miller’s death, one of his grandsons, relatively sure that the statute of limitations had run out, said, “Mr. Curt, you remember that black and yellow dead end sign Pa hated so bad?”
“Sure, I remember it.”
“Well, I know where it is. Pa had me and David go pull it up one night and throw it in Little Dry Creek—and that’s where it’s still at.”
As I said, there’s no dead end sign on the road to the cemetery.