Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Funny Thing Happened at the Cemetery

I took a drive to my hometown this past Sunday.  It was the anniversary of my mom's death.  I was missing her and knew a cemetery visit was just the thing to lift me up.  I like cemeteries in general, and the one in my hometown in particular.  Not just because it's the resting place of my parents, but also because it triggers so many memories from my childhood. The memory flood actually begins as soon as I cross the town line.  The fields where my siblings and I played ball.  The roads my dad taught me to drive on.  The yard of a friend where I kissed my husband for the first time.  The pond where I learned to swim. The church I grew up in. That simple old church stirs my emotions more than any other place. It is there I learned the depth of  God's love and mercy. Where I said goodbye to my dad, my grandmother and my sweet neighbor, Andy. Where Kurt and I exchanged wedding vows. I don't think there is one part of town that doesn't trigger a memory for me. I may be 47, but when I am in my hometown I am 6, 11 or 17 at any given moment.

My cemetery visit routine is to spend some time at my family's gravesite and then wander around a bit.  Almost every time I go, I notice the gravestone of someone familiar, that I hadn't spotted before.  The parent of an old friend. A former classmate. A neighbor.  Someone I went to church with.  On Sunday, I spotted the grave of  Mrs. Farmer.  I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed it before. She went to my church and was a friend of my parents.  I loved going to her house with them. She old, even when I was very young.  She called me Rosebud, maybe because I was lovely, maybe because she couldn't always remember my name. Either way, she made me feel special. She let my sister and I go crazy dressing up in old clothes in her basement.  She was mysterious and eccentric . She had a real fur rug in her living room.  I forget what animal it had belonged to, but remember it's softness.  No one, I mean no one, knew exactly how old she was.  When she died, my mom called to tell me.  Mrs. Farmer had been in a nursing home for years.  Even then, my mom speculated about her age, which was not included in her obituary.  She had her pegged at mid nineties, but really hated not knowing for sure.

Spotting that gravestone was a real bonus for me.  I hadn't thought of her in years.  The best part of all was that the place on her gravestone before her name, where a birth year normally would be, was blank.  Only the year of her death, 1997, was engraved after her name.  I laughed so hard.   My first instinct was to call my mom, she would love this.  It was a lovely split second of forgetting that she was gone.

I am thankful for the places, moments and people that took me from childhood to adulthood.  I am especially thankful  to Mrs. Farmer for giving me such a great moment 14 years after her death.  I hope that if she and my mom are together now, she  is still keeping her guessing.

2 comments:

  1. I hope you will send this to Mrs. Farmer's relatives, or better yet, your hometown newspaper (I think the whole town would love this). And thank you, once again, for so beautifully summing up what many of us feel about our roots but cannot adequately express. -- Brenda B.

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  2. I know when she was born... and I'm not telling either.

    -KRN

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