My friend at the Lucky Store seemed a little bit upset today. Earlier that morning James had been at the Mission City Cemetery in Santa Clara. It was quiet and no one was around. He liked those moments of solitude as he visited his parents at their gravesite. Their plot was located in an open field. James was quietly saying prayers when he heard a voice ask him, “Is that your parents?” As he turned around, James was surprised because he never saw or heard this stranger approach.
James paused and looked at the young man. He was around twenty years old and had a gentle look about him. He was dressed in a slim looking black blazer that he wore over a white turtleneck shirt. It reminded James of how men dressed in the 1960’s. James smiled back at the young man and answered that yes, it was his parents. The stranger asked a few more polite questions about James’ parents and then asked if he ever said prayers for the person buried next to his parents.
James looked over at the gravesite next to his parents and told him no, that he had not. He then turned back around, looked back down at his parents and finished his prayers. After a few minutes he turned back to look at his new acquaintance and to his astonishment the young man had disappeared. No sign of the young man in the open field of headstones. James looked at the headstone next to his parents. The name printed was that of Melvin Frontella. When James returned home he fired up his computer and googled Melvin Frontella. Melvin had been killed in the Vietnam War in 1965; there was also a photo of him. The photo of the young man looked just like the stranger James had been talking to that morning. When I left James that afternoon he was still a little confused from his encounter.
I awoke the next morning and still had a vivid recollection of James’s story. I later turned on my Facebook account and saw that they had posted a favorite photo of mine from a few years ago. The photo was of my granddaughters pointing to my brick at the Veteran’s Memorial at Central Park. I closely looked at the photo to read what I had printed on my brick. When I enlarged it I was drawn to the brick right below mine. I couldn’t help but notice the name on that brick. It was Melvin Frontella! I couldn’t wait to tell James at his work later that day.
We still don’t know if James saw Melvin at his gravesite that morning but we do know that Melvin’s brick was reaching out to mine. If you’re ever at the Santa Clara cemetery, look for Melvin’s gravesite located in front of the Chapel and say a little prayer. Better yet, see if you can see Melvin wandering around his final resting place.
Mission City Voices