Staring at the back of a hearse that is carrying your dad is an indescribable feeling.
I don’t think it really matters that it was sudden and unexpected or that he was too young or that he hadn’t yet met two of his grandchildren. What matters is that a piece of my very soul is gone. Forever. There are no more words to be said, hugs to be had, memories to be made. When it’s over, it’s over. That’s it.
I turned to see the line of cars following us, but more than that I wanted to see the line of welding trucks. You see, my dad was a welder his entire life.
He was the hardest working man I have ever known, and that is not just something I say to give you a sweet image in your head… it is the truth. He could fix anything. He could build anything. His hands were always dirty. He was up with the sun and always outside working. He took pride in his work. He made an impression and people looked up to him, and not just in the literal sense, being that he was 6’10”. That’s why there was a line of welding trucks following him to the cemetery on August 6, 2014 at 3pm. Even in his death, we stuck to my dad’s hard-working schedule and had his funeral at “break time” so that when it was over, his friends could “get back to work,” as he used to say. Those men took time out of their work day to come and honor my dad, just by being there. They followed in their faded welding shirts and boots, welding caps on their dashes. There were so many, I couldn’t count. They had all learned something, at some point, from my dad. I had no idea what was planned, but again, my heart swelled with pride when I heard those welding machines fire up. All at once, for what had to be a full 90 seconds, no one moved. The roar of the sound I have heard since I was a little girl filled the air. The tears ran down my face as I stood there, not moving, just listening, imagining the feeling my dad would have had knowing this special moment was in his honor.
As we made our way graveside, the impending feeling of ultimate consummation filled my mind. With every step I took toward that tent and green carpet, I felt a little more of my heart break. I listened to the preacher read God’s word and then I watched all of those men line up to walk by my dad for the final time. Those welding caps that used to lay on their dashes were now being placed, one by one, on top of my dad’s casket.
If I haven’t clearly painted the picture yet, try to imagine the service ending, people saying their goodbyes and making their way to their vehicles. When a graveside service ends, you usually never look back to see the groundskeeper removing the lowering device and filling the hole that your loved one was just laid to rest in. On this day, however, my dad’s legacy was displayed in every ounce of integrity and loyalty that could have possibly been shown. Although I knew of this plan, I couldn’t have imagined the way I would feel when my three brothers pulled their shovels from the bed of Trey’s truck. As they took off their dress shirts, everyone slowed down and started to turn back. The sound of goodbyes turned into whispers and then to silence as we all stood and witnessed the most beautiful act of honor unfolding before our eyes.
My dad raised three good men. He instilled a work ethic like no other, and he taught us to take care of our own. On that day, my brothers filled one last hole for Tim Carter.