Howard Hughes’ Grave at Glenwood Cemetery, Houston, Texas

Airplane Song- The Royal Guardsmen

To speak of loss in the age of endemic seems like one only adds to the sea of voices dealing with an unsure future; that every day that we spend together is more thought to be a gift which we may have appreciated less in more plentiful times. Where alone we may indeed find identity, but that together we may find commonalities that strengthen the narrative created by collective sighs and whimpers released at the most trying of moments as well as the upward glances and smirks we share despite them. 

Loss is a language spoken across culture and regional dialect carried across tradition and generation in low tones. There is gravity to the matter; it weighs on our hearts as well the ways in which we carry ourselves as we press on not only searching for reason but logic to at times, situations that defy both.

If we are lucky, we have left enough of ourselves on the table with the people that are around us that we are remembered well. We have aired all of our grievances, made peace with our demons and still dig deep enough to pull out the occasional selfless act. Empathy, grace, kindness and gratitude are the characteristics that first come to mind as preferable. Yet, so many times we don’t get to decide how we are leaving things.

I recently finished the POP Series “Schitt’s Creek” as it arrived to Netflix. While I have an abundance of praise for the writing and characters that defined the success of the series, watching the final episode and subsequent post series wrap-up, it occurs to me that the program was able to leave on their own terms, announcing the final season just as audiences were lauding it with affection.

Life is rarely, if ever, accurately precise.

Which brings us to our location for the week, Houston’s Glenwood Cemetery. The establishment hosts the remains of many Houston notable names since it’s founding in 1872. Names such as Hermann, Hobby, Hofheinz, Allen and McCarthy which are often affixed to landmarks and area attractions all rest in Glenwood. But, one name stands out to many who are not as familiar with the city and rest less starstruck by the above; Howard Hughes.

Hughes is widely regarded as a prominent figure in the business world before continuing to become a presence in filmmaking, engineering, aviation and philanthropy. If the archetype of a Texas Tycoon existed, Hughes would fill the role easily. It is rumored that Christopher Nolan’s Bruce Wayne from The Dark Knight series was loosely based on Hughes. Yet, Hughes is also remembered as a bit reclusive, eccentric and afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder. Hughes is buried next to his parents in the large (by comparison) cemetery plot.

Leonardo DiCaprio played Hughes in Martin Scorsese’s 2004 “The Aviator”, chronicling Hughes’ film production into some of his aviation achievements as well as a descent into his OCD.

As I stopped by the site on a sunny morning, I drove through the property to pay some respect and appreciate the surroundings. There is something peaceful about Glenwood that I didn’t really expect from a cemetery. A light breeze swept through the trees and the pristinely manicured plots. Not enough movement to be very windy, but constant enough to notice more than Houston’s ever present humidity.

The track this week is “Airplane Song” by The Royal Guardsmen. The tune is sweeping and wispy, aimed to reflect the elation of flying. Despite the multifaceted nature of the life and legacy that Hughes left behind, I felt that focusing on the empathy, grace, kindness and gratitude that is instilled in us all would be the most fitting of tributes.

So, especially in a time of discourse, I will continue this refrain: Let’s take care of each other, y’all.

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