The idea of saying goodbye to someone we love is never easy. Admitting that they’re gone, and moving beyond grief, can be one of the hardest things to do.
A woman named Courtney was preparing to say goodbye to her grandfather, Phillip. The entire family had been shaken by the loss of their rock, but the day had come to lay him to rest once and for all. During the funeral procession, Courtney was perplexed when she noticed someone watching the procession in stillness.
It was the day of the funeral, and people were getting ready to say goodbye to someone who had been immensely important to them. Nobody wanted to admit Phillip was gone, but it had to be done. A procession of 30 cars followed the hearse with Phillip in it from Langeland Memorial Chapel to Fort Custer National Cemetery, where he would be interred. It was no surprise that the entourage of people who wanted to say goodbye to Phillip was so large.
A huge family
Both family and friends of Phillip came to the funeral, pouring in to pay their respects to a man who had such a profound effect on the people around him. People wanted to make it clear how much they loved the man who had put so much love out into the world himself. They followed the hearse to the cemetery, honoring Phillip’s life with the sheer presence of so many people who had come to celebrate him. Although Phillip was gone, his memory would live on without a doubt.
A perfect union
Phillip had a very happy marriage with his wife, Carolyn. Carolyn described them as the perfect fit, both very different people whose love was made just as strong by the differences between them as by the similarities they shared. Phillip was her rock, providing Carolyn with support whenever she needed it, and sticking with her through the ups and downs, thick and thin. As with any couple, their relationship had its peaks and troughs, but for 48 years they were deeply in love, and completely devoted to each other.
A life well lived
For most of the time, Phillip led a peaceful, uncomplicated life, filled with joy. He had been a bulk driver for Pepsi, and put in 30 years of work for the company. Philip loved his job, as he truly enjoyed traveling on the roads, and it meant he was able to provide for his family. In his spare time, Phillip was a complete sports nut, being an avid fan of both baseball and football. He loved to spend his time kicking back with a cold drink, and watching a game with those closest to him.
Fighting to survive
Phillip’s family had been worried about having to say goodbye for a long time, as Phillip had been suffering with cancer for several years before his passing. However, even in the midst of his struggle, Phillip remained a fighter, bravely working to overcome his illness. Just a short time before he passed, the doctors treating Phillip were certain that the outlook was good. He was a man who truly fought to survive, never giving in to fear or uncertainty, and always looking toward the future.
A real fighter
Phillip had always been something of a fighter. During his 20s he went to fight in the Vietnam war, performing an incredibly dangerous service for his country. Every day could have been his last, but Phillip persevered, fighting for his life and what he believed in, and surviving to the best of his ability. He managed to remain in Vietnam for several years, eventually being discharged and sent home, able to return to a normal life. Having been through such an experience, it was clear that Phillip had a strong spirit, and the will to survive.
Thanks for the memories
Towards the tail end of his illness, Phillip came down with severe pneumonia. Steadfast as ever, he refused to allow his illness to get in the way of a good time, and was determined to spend a joyous Thanksgiving with his family. Phillip got his wish, and the family came together to give thanks and celebrate the happiness they had managed to find in life. There was an undercurrent of sadness due to Phillip’s condition, but the family persisted in celebrating nonetheless, and were able to make the occasion a truly happy one.
To the end
While Phillip had gotten the joy-filled Thanksgiving he had hoped for, it would be the last one he would see with his family. No more than a few days after the wonderful celebration, Phillip succumbed to his illness and passed on. Phillip had fought valiantly against his illness, determined not to let it get the better of him. Unfortunately, there was only so much he could do, and eventually his fight gave out. However, his family could be proud that he had hung on the way he did.
The family had known for some time that Phillip would probably not make it to another Thanksgiving. Regardless of this, the news of his passing was a horrible blow to them. The anchor of their family, a figure who had overflowed with love for all of them, was no longer around. Never again would they get to hear him laugh, or sit and watch a baseball game with him. They were going to have to get used to a life without the presence they had come to lean on so much.
Remembrance on the road
The procession had 15 miles to travel between the chapel and Phillip’s resting place, and people wondered how other drivers on the road would respond to the entourage. There were, after all, 30 cars traveling at a funeral pace, so people weren’t sure whether drivers would be respectful. There are no official laws or rules of conduct regarding a funeral procession, but several cars did move aside to let it pass, out of respect. However, Courtney would be most surprised by the behavior of one driver in particular.
A lone driver
Shelby, one of Phillip’s great-granddaughters, and one of the foremost cars in the procession, was among the first to notice the strange occurrence. While watching to see how the other drivers were behaving, she noticed a man getting out of his car and moving to the side of the road. He was then standing completely still, watching the procession. Shelby was understandably confused, wondering what the man’s reasons could possibly be for acting in such an unusual way.
A growing clan
While Phillip and Carolyn were initially a unit of two, they soon found their family growing bigger and bigger, which made Phillip incredibly happy. The couple had 4 children, who went on to give Phillip and Carolyn 11 grandkids, and 5 great-grandkids. The couple loved their family deeply, overjoyed at being able to spend so much around such happiness. Phillip would spend time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren constantly, and they all grew to love the man who had shown them so much love from the day they were born.
Shelby asked Courtney what the man was doing, but she had no idea either. Due to traffic they had as much time as they wanted to watch him, but both of them remained completely perplexed about what exactly the man was doing, and why. He was simply standing there watching the procession, without doing anything else. However, one of their relatives explained why they thought the man was doing this, and things fell into place somewhat.
Courtney and Shelby continued watching the man until the hearse went by him, and it immediately became clear what his intentions were. As it passed, he suddenly bowed his head and became very still, as a sign of respect. This man’s behavior, which had beforehand seemed strange to Courtney and Shelby, now made complete sense, and was incredibly touching. The man stood there with hands clasped and head bowed while the entire procession passed him by.
A touching tribute
Things had fallen into place for Courtney and Shelby, and all of a sudden they were completely overwhelmed. They burst into tears as the man paid his respects to the procession, unable to believe that he had gone so far to show respect to Phillip, who was a complete stranger to this man. The man’s actions lifted their hearts just before the ceremony, shining light onto what had been such a dark day for them until then. His incredibly moving behavior had been the perfect tribute to Phillip and his wonderful life.
However, Carolyn was not the only one who wanted to offer her thanks to the man who had touched their hearts. Garrick, one of Phillip’s grandchildren, had taken a photo of the man, and later posted it online in an effort to show his gratitude, and show people an example of someone doing something truly kind. He created a post thanking the man for showing such respect to their loved one, as it had made such a difficult day a little bit easier.
In time, the procession made its way to the cemetery, where Phillip would finally be put to rest. The procession was in awe of what they had seen, touched that a stranger would go so far in honor of a man they did not know. After the funeral, Carolyn took to social media to thank those who had come to pay tribute to Phillip and his life, and made a note of thanking the mysterious stranger who had gone above and beyond in showing their respect.
Offer their thanks
Their posts were also made, however, with the intention of trying to find the mystery man if possible. Rather than simply throw thanks out into the ether, they were hoping they could find the man and offer him their thanks personally. Garrick made it known on the photo that his family wanted to thank the man in person, and asked people to share it far and wide so they would have the best chance of doing so.
The internet was immediately enamored by this story, and before long it had been seen and shared by thousands upon thousands of people. Those who saw the post online appeared to be truly touched by the story of the stranger stopping to perform such a staggering act of kindness for people he did not know. They were determined to help the family find the man that had done this for them, so that they could offer him the personal thanks that he really deserved.
Catching every eye
In fact, Phillip’s family were not the only people who had taken notice of this stranger’s actions. Another person who had been at the scene on the day of the funeral had seen the mystery mourner, and had taken their own picture of him, later posting it online. They also seemed to be blown away by the stranger’s dedication, and the pure-hearted decency of doing something like that for strangers. This story swept across the internet, capturing people’s imaginations and their hearts, while renewing their faith in the ability of kindness to show itself in the strangest of places.
With them in spirit
Regardless of whether or not Phillip’s family is able to find their man, they remain overjoyed that he was willing to do what he did in the first place. It truly touched their hearts, and made saying goodbye to Phillip a special occasion. Some of them are even inclined to believe it was a sign sent to them by Phillip, as a way of making it clear that he would always be watching over them. Whether or not that is the case, it is undoubtedly true that Phillip lives on in the hearts and minds of those who remember him with such passion.
No luck yet
People were desperate to know whether or not the family ever managed to meet the stranger, and frankly so are we! However, despite even the efforts of the internet to aid in the search, it seems that as of yet their attempts to locate him have not been successful. Nonetheless, the family are undeterred in their desire to find the mystery procession member. Courtney is determined to personally extend her gratitude to the person who provided such a touching tribute to a man she loved so much.
It’s never an easy thing to have to say goodbye to a loved one. However, Phillip’s mystery mourner teaches us an important lesson about the end of life. Nothing and nobody will last forever, and losing people is simply a part of living. However, even if someone is no longer with us, we can ease the pain by properly paying tribute to them. If people keep their loved ones in their hearts they’ll never really be gone, and joy can always be derived from memories of the happy time they spent together.