Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Trip to the Cemetery for Memorial Day

Maybe it's a southern thing, maybe it's a country thing, I don't know. I just know that some people don't understand visiting cemeteries. My husband has always been dismayed to hear our children talk matter of factly about cemeteries and people who have passed on from this life, and I'm pretty sure he isn't the only person who feels that way. He was born and raised in town, though, not in the country and not in the south. I guess I'm telling you this at the beginning of this entry because I don't want to offend any one either way. . . I just find a lot to think about when it comes to the different ways we all approach life and death. Today, I'm gonna talk about the country way.

The country way of looking at death is simple-- death is a part of life. If you believe in God, then I suppose you can also say that life is a part of death. We don't have to talk about religion, though. That's another one of those things that really depends on how you were raised and what you've experienced in life. Death isn't a scary or hushed occurrence for a country kid. So it really isn't surprising to find that cemeteries aren't scary places for most country people, or even those of us who've grown up and moved away from real deep country.

Cemeteries are places where you can look at old headstones and marvel at the ornate decorations. It's always interesting to wander along the rows of a cemetery and find family trees appearing right before your eyes. Cemeteries are places where you can stand still for a moment and feel the connection with past generations. Cemeteries are a place for comfort, not in a wailing and sad way, but comfort in the form of sharing stories about the people we've known and loved. They bring comfort in that they show you time marches on but people are not forgotten.

Samuel Abraham and Mary Josephine were my mom's father's parents. My great-grandparents had a passel of kids, so many that I can never remember all of their names in order to count them. Willie, Arziney, Delphie, Berthie, and Rosie were some of the sisters. The youngest three children were Samuel Lee (my Granddaddy), Myrtle, and Bethel. My great-grandparents owned a mill, and they donated the ground for the cemetery. I wish I knew more about them.

See the two tree stumps in this picture? Those mark the grave of one of Samuel Abraham and Mary Josephine's daughters.

Samuel Lee and Rosa Mae Duncan, my mom's parents, are buried beneath the two stones on the left. The grave with the flag flying beside it belongs to my Uncle Grover, an Army veteran. You know, I used to always hear people say to not walk on the side of the headstones where the bodies are buried. I can't remember where I learned that, but I know that in these little cemeteries we walk right up to the headstones and read and talk about the person who lies beneath. It's funny, as we were getting out of the car this morning, my mom was telling James and Kate that her daddy would've thought the world of them if he had lived to meet them. Somehow, I think it would please Granddaddy to know those kids were standing above him, listening to his daughter tell them about her father.

It was a good day.


ellen said...

I think cemeteries are cool too. We have one full of rich history at the top of our hill. We even have a gypsy queen buried up there!
I don't have any family there, though, we're into cremation and scatter.
Our cemetery is beautiful too. Huge old trees and very ornate head stones.

angelinabeadalina said...

Oh, a gypsy queen! Bet there is all kinds of interesting stuff to find there with her!