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home : columnists : ginger truitt January 25, 2015


8/24/2014 7:27:00 PM
Old cemeteries are interesting places

By Ginger Truitt
Honeycomb


I snapped a picture of the black, wrought iron gate and sent it to my family along with the text, "Exploring this old cemetery."

My aunt responded, "Why?"

My question is, why would anyone not want to explore an old cemetery?

I first spied it while riding my bike through the countryside with hubby. Back during our dating years, he readily explored cemeteries with me. Together, we would point out unusual tombstones, read inscriptions, and make observations.

We once found three graves in a row. The inscriptions read only:

Here lies John Clark's wife

Here lies John Clark's second wife

Here lies John Clark's mother

"Wow!" hubby remarked. "John Clark must have been a very important man."

We laughed together at the absurdity that Mr. Clark thought it enough that the women in his life should be remembered only by their relationship to him, and not by their own names or merits.

After we married, I learned that hubby didn't much care for graveyards. Like any normal teenage boy, he had been doing whatever necessary to spend time with the girl he loved. I don't mind exploring on my own, so I tucked the little country cemetery into the back of my mind, and saved it for a day when I was riding alone.

It's better to be alone anyway because then I can talk uninterrupted. I know, it sounds odd, but I do tend to chatter while I'm in cemeteries. When I find a veteran, I thank them. When I come across the grave of a small child, I find his momma and shed a few tears on her behalf. When I notice that people died around a significant date in history, I ask them what it was like to live during that time. I have yet to receive an answer.

Sometimes, I will say a person's name out loud, simply because I think it would be nice if a hundred years from now, someone took the time to utter my name.

And occasionally, I joke. Last week, I was kneeling at Cora Alexander's tombstone, trying to make out an inscription, when I realized the ground below me had shifted slightly. Stepping back, I saw a casket-sized indentation in the grass. I took comfort in the fact that I had sent the gate picture to my family, so if I disappeared into a grave, they would at least know where to start the search. I laughingly said to Cora, "We wouldn't have to hang out together for too long."

Morbid? Yeah, just a bit. I can't fully explain why I visit cemeteries, but I know it has something to do with a longing deep inside to connect with people of the past.

The only legible words on one particular headstone proclaim, "Gone but not forgotten." Perhaps that's another part of it. I don't want to be forgotten. It's not death that bothers me, but I don't want my story to die. That's why I write. It helps to know that someone walking through the cemetery might take time to ponder my life, and ever-so-softly allow the wind to carry my name once more. And while they're there, they can say hubby's name too, because he'll be right beside me.



Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Twitter (@GingerTruitt), find her on the web at www.gingertruitt.com or contact ginger@gingertruitt.com.







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