I didn’t go alone. Why would I have even wanted to go alone? Last night, Emily asked me why I would do this. She offered to go along with me. That meant Lola would also have to go along. There wouldn’t be anyone home to stay with her. Lo was a little apprehensive, but I assured her that this wouldn’t be a trip filled with sadness. PLUS…she would get to see The Other Lola’s grave.
The day started off well. I woke up very early, too early to wake the girls. I checked emails, then I took a nice, long bath. Eventually, I went in to the girls’ room to wake them up. “Hey, girls! Wake up! It’s cemetery day!!!” They were both bleary. Just like their mother, neither of them are morning people. I didn’t hurry them. I had no schedule to keep. We had planned on toaster strudel for breakfast. That’s something I don’t normally buy with 6 people in the house, but today was special. We were having a day of relaxation and togetherness. The day was off to a great start.
Of course, there were messages from work, a call from the hospital, but I was determined not to let outside influences ruin the day. I know, it sounds strange considering the fact that we were on our way to a cemetery, but the day felt festive. Then Andrew called. He was stranded. He had a tire blow out. He changed the tire, and then the spare had blown, too! I was still in my robe, but hopped in the car to rescue him. ( OK, I am not a car guru, so don’t laugh. If I have some of the facts wrong, I am just reporting what I remember) We later found out that the front struts were shot and were rubbing on the tires. That’s what caused the blow-outs. $1,100 later, the car is back in business. OUCH!
We hit the road before noon. The drive was beautiful. We remarked over and over at the beauty of the things we saw on our drive. We twisted and turned through the countryside. We sang. We laughed. We talked. Emily said that she had no idea we would be having so much fun on our trip to the cemetery. I was so happy. This is just as it should be. What would this drive have been like had I chosen to go alone? So often, I have chosen what is not good for me. I have chosen not to rely on those around me. I wonder why? I hope these are lessons that I take to heart.
I was happily excited as we rounded the corner of the family farm. There was Aunt Lillian’s little house nestled in the bottom ground. I knew that around the next corner, I would see the cemetery up on the hill. The taller stones would reflect in the sun to guide us the rest of the way.
We rounded the corner, and there was the little country church. Next door was Aunt Bertha’s house. Once widowed, she had lived there with her brother, Uncle Jesse. They are all long gone now, but their memories remain. I remember Aunt Bertha with her cord of garlic tied around her neck. Uncle Jesse claimed that he was the oldest man in the county. My grandparents were quick to tell me the truth once we were alone, but I loved hearing Uncle Jesse’s tall tales. Uncle Jesse and Aunt Bertha were my great grandpa’s siblings. He lived in the big, stone farmhouse next door where they had all grown up.
The big house has fallen into dire disrepair, but I remember it in better times. I remember Great Grandma and Great Grandpa, and collecting eggs, deliciously famous chocolate cake, and a pump handle at the kitchen sink with a tin cup for drinks of well water.
Floods of good memories washed over me as I turned down the old country road. I felt the spirits of memory all around me. I stopped the car and waited for a moment to let them settle down. I sat and looked up the hill. Dad was there. They were all there: my babies Adam and Grace, my brother, my grandparents, great grandparents, great-great, great-great-great. On and on…
I took a deep breath and headed up the hill not knowing how I would feel to be there among the dead, the dead that I loved so fiercely.
The picture below is where my dad’s body was laid to rest. I felt a quiet sadness, but this is important, I did not feel him there. Yes, I had memories of being in this place WITH my dad, but I did not feel his spirit in this place. I have felt him in other places, but not here in this place where earthly remains are interred. That in itself was a huge comfort to me. No, I did not have to drive for over an hour to be near my dad. He is right here with me in my heart…always.
He would have liked this journey of mine today. He would have been proud. He would be happy that I am honoring these memories and passing them along to my daughters. The trip was worth it. I felt peace. I remembered those people who have shaped and touched my life. What I passed on to my daughters today was that sense of peace. Someday when they stand by my grave, they will be comforted by the love I have for this place and this land. Just as I am comforted by the knowledge of the love my dad had for this place, they will know that this place is where my heart will be happy and at rest.
Our little Lola is named after my great grandpa’s sister who died in 1893 at age nine from scarlet fever. We have her little wooden pencil box. If you slide the lid back, there are still graphite pencils inside the box. Her name is written in child’s handwriting on the bottom of the box. After Our Lola was born, my dad was on a mission to find a picture of his great aunt Lola. One summer day at a family reunion, he was successful. He found a picture of Lola. We have it framed and sitting on a special shelf next to the pencil box. Today was the first time Our Lola has visited the grave of her namesake. It was really sweet to see. Hard to explain, but very, very sweet. Below is her picture sitting on the stone.
This may be a journey or a day spent in a way that doesn’t make sense to some, or to most, people. It wasn’t morbid. It wasn’t sad. It was strengthening. I felt years of love, family, care, and happiness wrapped around me. I felt grounded. I felt a sense of purpose as I shared this day with the girls. We all came away changed. Maybe changed just a tiny little bit, but it was a good bit of change. Below are a few more pics from our day.