Friday, September 25 2020 - 7:18 AM
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Spring Break Cemetery

On the first day of my grandsons spring break from school, I offered to pick him up from a parents office by early afternoon for an overnight stay. Or he could come with me and a friend that morning to visit a cemetery before going to my house. I was fulfilling a promise to my cousins wife who had asked me to visit a cemetery in our state to take a photo of her great-aunts grave headstone. The year before she had sent me the name of all the family members in a certain section and row at the cemetery. My cousin had purchased a headstone to mark the aunts grave but she had never seen it.  

My son suggested that I ask Grandson if he wanted to go with us, and the seven-year-old replied, O.K., Ill go.The cemetery would be a first for him. I wondered if he would be bored, disgusted, or overly active after a long ride.  

So the three of us set off with the Waze app to find a cemetery about 60 miles away from our city. My grandson sat in the back seat reading Garfield books while the adults chatted and watched for road changes. Finally we arrived at the big cemetery without a clue as to how to find one specific headstone. I had talked to the sextons assistant that morning but he was not in his office and didnt answer his phone upon our arrival. I decided we should drive around and see if he might be working outside. In the distance we could hear a bagpipe playing and we could see from the cars that a funeral was in progress. At the edge of the funeral a man stood near a small earth mover. My friend walked out to the field to see if that was our man. Sure enough, he recognized the name and directions we had so we followed him right to the row. Then I was able to take a photo of the womans headstone. Mission accomplished!  

After finding the headstone and a quick Facebook send, my grandson wanted to look around. He started noticing the family names on other headstones, the various sizes, shapes, and inscriptions. Oh look, it says Clifford,he remarked. Later he read the age of one of the children who had died, She was four years old.I was getting anxious to go find the restaurant for lunch, but Grandson wanted to see more sections of the cemetery. So we moved the car and walked through some more rows, trying to find the very oldest headstones for dates. I told him how some people make paper tracings of headstone names to take home. We noticed a lot of WWII veterans graves, elaborate modern headstones, epitaphs, mausoleums, and graves decorated with a flurry of fading artificial flowers.  

I remembered our family tradition of putting flowers on ancestorsgraves before Memorial Day. My paternal grandma called the national holiday Decoration Daysince that was when respectful families visited cemeteries and remembered their loved ones. She would always pick snowball bushflowers from the front yard for grandfathers grave as she said that was his favorite flower. We would buy plants such as geraniums and Dad would dig a hole behind the headstones to place the flowers. Great-grandparents and some auntsand unclesgraves could be found in the same cemetery. Grandma seemed to know a lot of people there. As children, we were cautioned not to run around, or even walk on the tops of the gravesites. It was an intriguing, yet strange, sort of community.  

One result of a very mobile society is that very few people live around the cemeteries where they have ancestors buried or interred. Often people choose to have their ashes delivered to favorite places on earth or water. I think most people would like to have someone know their names and the dates of their existencethat they mattered. Perhaps that is one reason that  people now visit ancestorsburials on Find-a-Grave or other internet research genealogy sites.  

I mentioned to my grandson that some of the headstones we were seeing had family names that were included in his heritage, even if they werent our people. I want my grandchildren to feel connected to a long line of people in the past and all that they endured to bring us forth. I reminded him that he had attended his great-grandfathers funeral when he was a toddler, even though he cant remember the occasion. I promised him that I would take him to see family headstones if we were together in my former home state. 

I am so thankful that my God doesnt forget my existence nor my loved ones. Perhaps my grandson wont forget the spring break when he first visited a cemetery. 

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion: 

  1. Read Romans 8:38, 39. What does that mean to you? 
  1. How might you honor a parent, grandparent, or deceased mentor in a very practical way? 

 Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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