Visiting the grave of a loved one can be a tough thing. It's very emotional, and though it's good to spend dedicated time with them, the outburst of feelings can make it difficult for some. Others succeed in making it a regular thing, and though it's still just as sad, their desire to visit their loved one outweighs the discomfort of tears.
Some further incorporate other routines into their visits. They bring flowers, they talk about their days, they clean up the stone. It starts as something personal, but one man's story proves how much that love can spread.
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Remembering Them Always
When a loved one passes away, we sometimes adopt new rituals into our routines that help us remember them. We think back on memories of them, we look at photos, and we indulge in or choose something that reminds us of them. It's not always conscious, but sometimes it is, becoming an active choice every day that honors their life.
The way we remember our dead can sometimes bloom outwards, inspiring others and reminding us how important it is to not only cherish life but also respect the dead.
A Flower A Day
One man who set a wonderful example is Jake Reissig. Ever since his wife of 65 years, Elizabeth, passed away, the 86-year-old man clips a rose from his rose garden and brings it to her cemetery plot.
"She was beautiful to him," Jake's son, Roger, told CBS News, adding that his dad would frequently comment about how Liz, as he called her, was always "dressed to the tee."
His rose ritual isn't entirely new. Bringing her a rose each day was also something he did when Elizabeth was alive.
Keeping Things Fresh
During a particularly brutal Texas summer in which the state faced a severe drought, Jake began to worry about the grass surrounding his wife's plot, not wanting it to turn brown and dry. To combat this, he started visiting her twice a day, bringing along a hose so he could water the lawn in front of her headstone.
His methods did work, with Elizabeth's grave remaining bright green while the rest around her began to wither.
During one of his watering visits, Jake noticed a young woman two plots over that was kneeling down and crying. He went over to comfort her, asking who she was there for and learning about the man buried so close to his wife.
It was the woman's brother, Joseph Villasenor, who had been a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. By the time Jake met her, the veteran had already been dead for five years.
Both At Once
Ever since meeting Joseph's sister, Jake added another action to his daily routine. When he would visit his wife to water her plot, he watered Joseph's, too.
"He's just a giving person," said Roger, who would sometimes accompany his father when he visited Elizabeth. "When I saw it, I just couldn't believe it."
And neither could Joseph's family. One time, when his parents arrived to see him while Jake was there watering Elizabeth's grass, they came over and hugged him.
A Stranger's Kindness
Jake then turned to Joseph's mother and asked, "Do you want to water it?" She took the hose from him and did so, crying all the while.
"They thought it was a miracle," Roger said. "They couldn't believe a stranger would do that for him."
Jake assures he's no stranger to Joseph now, saying he talks to him every day when he's standing there watering the grass.
Roger isn't surprised by his dad's actions. He's been this kind his whole life. "The way dad treated mom and all of us, it's not a surprise."
To celebrate his father's generosity, Roger made a Facebook post explaining the situation, including photos of Jake with his hose. The post earned quite a bit of popularity, with over 24k likes and nearly 6.5k shares.
People in the comments were touched. As one person wrote, "Roger, your Father is an inspiration to all. Thank you for this lovely, heartwarming story of true love and dedication."
Another added, "What a beautiful thing to share about your father. He is an example for others to follow for sure. Very special."
A Beautiful Reminder
Jake's story is one of heartbreak, yes, of deep tragedy we all dread, but also one of love and kindness. Even though his wife had passed, his love for her never diminished. In fact, he had so much love left that he was able to share it with another family who needed it so desperately after the loss of a valiant man of their own.
In the grand scheme of things, Jake's act was a small one. A few minutes spent watering to make sure the grass stayed green. To Joseph's family, though, it meant the world. We all have the power to do a small, kind thing every day. We should always strive to when we see the opportunity, for we don't know who out there struggling will need what we have to give.
Sometimes, learning how we can exercise kindness can be hard, as we're being hindered by deeply rooted issues stemming from events in our childhood. If you sense there's something old that's blocking your path, you're not alone.