Paying to Wave

waving goodbyThe poet Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) set out to travel by boat from England to America.  Everyone on deck had someone there to see him or her off—everyone except him.  Rupert Brooke felt lonely, terribly lonely.  Watching the hugging and the kissing and good-byes, he wished he had someone to miss him.

The poet saw a youngster and asked his name.

“William,” the boy answered.

“William,” he asked, “would you like to earn a few shillings?”

“Sure, I would!  What would I have to do?”

“Just wave to me as I leave,” the lonely man instructed.

It is said that money can’t buy love, but for six shillings young William waved to Rupert Brooke as the boat pulled out.  The poet writes, “Some people smiled and some cried, some waved white handkerchiefs and some waved straw hats.  And I? I had William, who waved at me with his red bandana for six shillings and kept me from feeling completely alone.”

Only the Lonely

Locally, a recent issue is money used by the city to bury unclaimed bodies. It is hard to visualize a person so alone in the world that when he dies, no relative or friend cares enough to claim the remains. This is becoming more of a problem because of the increase in the number of unclaimed bodies. In 2011, Cincinnati spent $82,000 on pauper deaths compared to $43,000 in 2007.

Recently, in a neighboring city, a man died, remains unclaimed. No pallbearers were at his burial, and the cemetery director delivered the eulogy. Since he had served a tour in Vietnam, two soldiers came from Ft. Knox to represent the military. This story is repeated often in every large metropolitan area.

It is hard to imagine being so alone that when you die, no one cares enough to bury your remains except the state.

This story demonstrates the need to be a friend to those without friends and to keep track of people who live alone. As actress Anne Hathaway said, “Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me. “