Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1

Can you miss someone you’ve never met?

That was the thought that was going through my mind Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 6, 2013, when I visited a cemetery in suburban Grand Rapids. I knew who I was looking for, but all that was written on the piece of paper I got from the lady in the office was: Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1.

Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1.

That’s what my grandfather had been reduced to after dying in 1949, one year after my next oldest brother was born, three years before I showed up as the last of six children to my parents.

Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1.

I had been here a number of times before, but when? Thirty years ago? Longer than that? To tell the truth, I can’t remember.

Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1.

That’s where the Rev. Lambertus J. Lamberts has been resting since Feb. 27, 1949. Just to his left is the marker for Anna Elizabeth Lamberts, my grandmother, who passed away on Sept. 2, 1956. My older sister, Ann Elizabeth, was named after her.

I was four years and a few months old when Grandma Lamberts died. I think I remember this woman a little bit, but I’m not sure about that one, either. I know, though, that she was the only grandparent of mine who was still alive when I was. All the others, including the Rev. Lambertus J. Lamberts, had since died.

You’re probably wondering why Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1 means so much to me. You see, the Rev. Lambertus J. Lamberts — the J. is for Jacob, by the way — is/was my grandfather on my dad’s side. Yeah, I know, we all have (or have had) grandfathers, but how many of you were born on the same date he was? Lambertus Jacob Lamberts was born Jan. 2, 1881, 71 years before Lee J. Lamberts arrived on Jan. 2, 1952. If you’re paying attention, we share more than just a birthday, we also share the same initials. That was my parents’ tribute to me for being born on a day that was already important to them.

My father, who died in 1998, used to remind me that his father and his son were born on the same date. I used to think that was pretty neat, especially as I got older and dad told me that I was a pretty good writer and kind of opinionated, just like his dad. Now that both of my in-laws are gone and my 99-year old mother is the only parent I have to look up to, Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1 has taken on a new significance.

Grandpa’s marker is engraved with Romans 8 verse 18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

At age 61, I’m beginning to better understand the meaning of certain revelations. I only stopped at the cemetery because that was like the third time this week that I drove by and something made me turn in:

Section 12, Row 8, Marker 1.

Can you miss someone you’ve never met? Until today, I never considered that question. After today, my answer is a resounding YES!!

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