Today I roamed the cemetery on the hill overlooking the tranquil lake searching for the grave of my old friend Wesley. I had attended the funeral, but I did not attend the burial.
Wesley was one of those guys bigger than life with a pocketful of idiosyncrasies which made him unique. He was an educator, an educator of the practical as well as the theoretical.
He was offered a new position at university, a place which, in some circles, had a mystical aura on the banks of an ancient river. The fog from the river would enrobe the campus with morning mists like a castle trapped in the clouds.
Traveling from his school in the blue mountains to the river valley, Wesley arrived at the university with a mission to build a new school. The challenge was great, and the opposition would be greater.
Build he did. He created a school out of hard work, dedication and a drive that his school would be one to help his fellow travellers on the road of life. However, other professors of the elite, intellectual inclination found his school to be a carbuncle on the university.
A school of applied arts where the hand and the brain were both employed did not seem to some to be suitable to this mystical place on the ancient river banks. Wesley recruited talented individuals who shared his vision, a vision to reach beyond the river banks and to touch lives on this planet traversing the cosmos.
Time brings change to university. Programs come and go like the ebb and flow of tides.
However, dreams are not subject to the tides of academic change, especially for someone as Wesley. Reality of age tempers one’s dreams. One slows down and experiences myriad vicissitudes.
Wesley lost family, friends and colleagues. Lost of a child is a harsh reality, especially in a tragic accident. Wesley was not quite the same after his son died so suddenly.
Sometimes the vultures sense when the prey is easy. The vultures did swoop down on the grieving man and began to carve up his school like mincemeat pie on a holiday table.
As time went on Wesley’s health deteriorated. Retirement came, but it would be very short.
Talking on the phone with Wesley for the last time was a reality for which I was not prepared. A few days later it seemed he passed away from the confines of this earth.
After the funeral the procession of people passing by the family seemed endless. I gave his daughter a hug since we had graduated from the same university in a distant land and were classmates. Wesley’s wife took my hand and whispered, “Wes really appreciated you.”
Wes was my friend and my mentor. His passing was so sudden and so unexpected.
As I stood by his grave today, I said, “Old friend, you are missed, but you are blessed not to be here to see your dream dismantled. They have decided to close your school, your dream, your vision.”
If Wesley had been alive, his heart would have been broken to see his school dismantled and parsed out to the other entities at the university. The heartache would have murdered his generous spirit.
Wesley’s legacy is assured because those of the applied arts went out from the ancient river valley to help their brothers and sisters. It is the lives touched which will be remembered after universities and their buildings are no more.
The next time you walk through a cemetery pause for a moment beside the grave of someone you did not know and ask yourself a question, “Who was this person? What hopes and dreams did he or she have? Did they live well?”
For one day we will all be like Wesley. The world will revolve, but we will know nothing of it. If we are remembered, then it will be by those we touched in our earthy journey to the cosmic ocean where all life began so very long ago.
G. D. Williams © 2012
Boulevard of Broken Dreams