By Michael Armijo
It was only a 45-minute drive, but I arrived at the site. It took me another 10 minutes to find his “section,” but we were soon in the vicinity of where his life was laid to rest. As I paced each headstone, I had an eerie vision of him lying beneath the surface, watching me pace the yard, while his spirit yearned for me. Almost as though he was screaming, “I’m over here,” in a silent spirit.
I walked up to his plaque and I stared at the etching in the stone. I reluctantly read the words, “Cipriano Armijo, beloved man of God.” And after kneeling down on the soft, damp, green grass, I relaxed my body over the 8 by 4 foot section of landscape that was the last home to daddy’s body. I traced each word on the plaque with my hand, etching each letter of his name with my fingers.
When I knelt, I looked down upon the freshly cut, softened soil and confessed all the things that have happened since he left this earth. I explained to the ground, and to the bronze piece of metal that bears his name, my life without daddy with hopes his spirit heard my deepest fears and my strongest accomplishments. I told him that I had hoped he was proud of me, as my life had followed strange paths that have given me journeys of learning and routines of pain. Since his departure, life had become interesting and successful, yet painful and confusing.
When I sat at his gravesite, I realized what a misconception the phrase: “I no longer have parents, they died.” Because when I knelt at his site I held myself accountable of my actions and perceptions of life, just as when he was alive. I relayed the message; “I know you’re there, I know you’re watching.” As I crept to my knees, I still had a father and I still had someone to answer to.
I believe that parents are forever. Good or bad, their behavior and their actions stay in our memories. I believe that we never end our influence on our children, we never stop being parents. That’s why it’s so important that we do a good job each day while we’re here on earth; we have no guarantee of how long we’re going to be here. When we’re gone, when our heart stops and our spirit rises to the world beyond our hearts and minds, we can only hope that we’ve loved enough, lived enough, and laughed enough for our children to remember our lives as a benefit to their own, because we do live in their hearts forever.
Someday, when our own children kneel on the soft, moist, green grass that lies our last home to our bodies, we can only hope the tears that fill our children’s eyes and hearts are tears of love that yearn for us to forever watch over their joyous lives. This will remind them that we’ll never, ever, stop being their parents.