I hadn’t walked the local cemetery for a long time. I used to enjoy the history and the quietness of different cemeteries around town. The local cemetery opened its doors in 1918 and I guess one day too I will be there somewhere in the lawns. Today I had an impulse to go on a walk and visit someone who I used to know. I hadn’t visited since the funeral and felt compelled to quiet my thoughts and say hi. If saying hi to a grave site is normal than that is what I intended to do. But as I retraced my steps I could not find where he was buried so I just wandered alone up and down the rows of past women, men and children.
Generations of families as the old lawns made way to new. I counted back the years from plots in 2012 back to 2000 and earlier. I came across two ladies quietly clearing away the old flowers while sitting in two deck chairs sharing a cuppa in front of one site as if they were sharing a tea party. As I parked my car to have a final second search in an area, I privately watch as one young man pulled up, tended to a grave site with fresh flowers before pulling away to leave. As I silently walked by and glanced at the stone I notice the date was one year passed for a young wife and mother.
I stumbled upon twin boys who found their angel wings one day from birth and a surviving twin brother passing one day later. I paused to reflect on all the babies and multiple births born too early.
As I meandered to another lot obscured with Australian bush at the perimeter, I found graves less loved, tendered and overgrown. I was compelled to clear the weeds and dirt from one grave plaque to see the names and photos of a married couple underneath. I wondered if visitors to these sites were long gone.
I sat in solitude. It was hot.
I thought back to when my grandmother died when I was 13. I was told at breakfast. The funeral was my first and I was embarrassed to know more about my grandmother at her eulogy than in life. About 4 years later my grandpa joined my grandmother after time in a nursing home. They are buried in a lawn cemetery another hours north of here. Its been 20 years now since my grandmother died and I have never visited. I feel a bit bad about that. But I remember and think about it.
My other Nana lives in a nursing home. The Living History of Winifred Henderson http://thelastdegree.com/2011/08/31/living-history-of-winifred-henderson/
She has dementia and no longer recognizes most of us or knows she has great-grandchildren. I feel blessed I had wonderful grandparents who were parts of birthdays, Christmas, holidays, school events and sacraments. Family. My girls have doting grandparents who spoil them to pieces but it does sadden me their father does not have parents to share in the joy. But families make up all types.
I feel grateful.
The cemetery brought me quietness so desperately needed from a few hectic weeks as new decision and business opportunities have arisen. I did not find the person I intended. I brought my small bunch of flowers home. Will try again another day.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.