Labor Day

Photo by Lydia Selk

Photo by Lydia Selk

Labor Day brings on sad memories for me, because my grandfather died on Labor Day, 1992. That year I was stationed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. My mom called early on Labor Day to let me know my grandfather had been taken to the hospital, and though I managed to catch a plane a few hours later, he died before my flight arrived in Florida.

Born in 1919, Milton Herbert Oliver was a veteran of the United States Navy and served on the U.S.S. YR-47 during WWII. The YR-47 was a supply ship, and he was the cook. He sure seemed to love cooking. I know he cooked a great deal whenever I spent the night over at his place. He really liked to make fish. I’d go to his house and be served fish and grits. For some reason, my grandfather liked to eat his fish with cane syrup. He’d pour the syrup in the plate and then “sop” it up with the fish. I’m not sure how he came by this particular delicacy, but I have to admit, I never really cared for it.

There are so many good memories of my grandfather. He’d take me hunting and fishing; he taught me how to farm. Even when I was very young, he talked to me like I was an adult and he listened to me when I talked to him. He went to church every Sunday, and did his best to teach me right from wrong, especially in teaching me to respect other people and their belongings.

I borrowed something from him once, and I sent it back to him with my brother, who happened to be going towards my grandfather’s place. But my brother came back with it, saying that my grandfather had refused to accept it.  When I got to my grandfather’s house, in a stern voice he told me something I’ve never forgotten, “Son, if you borrow something, you need to return it yourself. Don’t send it back with someone else.”

To this day, I still follow that advice.

I know this Labor Day I’ll wake up thinking about my grandfather, just like I do every Labor Day. There’s a Christian song by Geoff Moore that always makes me think of him. The title of it is “When I Get Where I’m Going”.

The song is about dying and going to heaven, and here are some of the lyrics that always pull at my heart goes like this:

I’m gonna walk with my granddaddy
And he’ll match me step for step
And I’ll tell him how I’ve missed him
Every minute since he left.

“When I Get Where I’m Going” lyrics credit to Geoff Moore



Photographer Lydia Selk lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. She is an artist and photographer who took the time to look for beauty and says that now beauty is all she can see.

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