The day was unseasonably hot for the time of year.
Unrelentingly the sun beat down its uncomfortable heat from a clear blue sky onto the small group of mourners who stood with heads bowed, listening to the minister speaking his words by the side of the open grave.
The casket had been lowered, prayers said, a eulogy given. Though a chair had been offered for his use the old man declined and felt a comforting hold from his youngest on his elbow, giving him extra strength to remain upright on unsteady legs.
Sweat poured down his back but he’d insisted on wearing his very best Sunday suit, though he still wished he could remove the tie which felt prickly and overly tight around his neck.
He wiped a tear away from his eye with a shaky hand and looked down through blurred vision at the brass-plated plaque, repeating the name inscribed on it silently over and over in his head. He shuddered and sighed forlornly.
With the service nearly over he stooped down and took hold of a small handful of soil. His hearing wasn’t as it used to be but still he couldn’t mistake the words spoken in a soft and reverential tone.
“Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust...”
Feeling himself overcome once again with grief he blinked away tears then threw the dirt onto the coffin. Others followed his lead then quietly and respectfully moved away, leaving the old man staring yet again into the grave and swallowing down the sobs he knew were gathering and threatening to escape.
A minute passed and then two until finally fingers gripped around his shoulder, gently squeezed, indicating it was time to go.
The old man nodded a silent response, cleared his throat, his voice trembling and hesitant though the words tenderly spoken. “Good bye brother…I love you. Always have and always will.”
Then arm in arm Scott and his son walked slowly away from the graveside and back towards their Lancer home.