Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Death Pays Another Visit

The day daughter and I visited Mom's grave, I felt compelled to make the trip. 

Although we could have gone either of the next two days, I felt drawn to drive the more than one hundred miles there and back on that day, not another.

It was a few days past her birth date. 

We always spent that day together and celebrated another year of life, another year of knowing the love of family as a unit of support and caring.

Daughter and I spent more time than we usually did among many headstones finding family members including Aunts and Uncles and Cousins with the same last names. 

We'd walked the cemetery before but not to this extent and so the finds were interesting as we tallied the number of relatives who lived, loved and passed as all have done and will do. I tried to recall Mom's stories of this one and that and of other people with whom she shared her time on this earth.

We'd taken along a lunch and ate it in the car on the half dirt, half gravel road that wraps from the outside to the inside of the graveyard and out again. 

In a way, we were "sharing" another picnic with Mom as we'd done so many times before.

For some cultures, this practice of visiting graves and eating is the same as it is for some religions who come to pray. 

It wasn't planned that way. We're still very much pinching pennies and making lunch is so much less expensive than buying even fast food on a dollar menu.

I've seen a lot of graveyards over the years as I've traveled and attended  various funerals and burials of friends and family. 

This one has been the most unique, peaceful and very memorable to me, possibly because it offers connectivity to my own family, to those who came before me. 

It gives light and hope for my journey knowing they had challenges and struggles, hopes and dreams, some that changed their lives forever while others may have been like a whisp of smoke, here for the moment and then vanishing into thin air.

There are no signs along the main road to guide you to the final resting place of members of the community. 

No Church sits nearby, no gate provides entry. 

It's as open and accessible and free standing as it was when the first burial began sometime in the 1840's or so. 

No neatly laid out plots although there are some lines and symmetry there is not the same "planning" but rather burials in family plots as they occurred, young children alongside adults, all whose lives are marked by dates on stone.

In the newer areas there's a linear positioning of the graves but there's still some variance.

The old tombstones can hardly be read; they're small and most are white. 

So open. So natural. Surrounded by the farming community and small towns nearby. Oh, there are other burial areas and some say this was the burial place for those who weren't "good members" of specific churches or who maybe didn't have the funds -- at least in the beginning.

Now, I think members of families choose this place because of the peace, the natural beauty and the freedom it represents and probably because it's a simpler place.

Monuments, yes, but very average and no mausoleums, no crypts, no definition of wealth on this earth by today's standards. 

Death paid a visit to our family on the same day we visited Mom's grave site. Was that why I felt drawn? 

Was I needing to experience this peace I felt when the last male member of my husband's family passed through this life?

The message came by text from my son who was travelling outside the country on business.

They passed in the order they were born -- oldest, middle and youngest.

One child remains, my sister-in-law. I had no brothers and sisters but imagine watching those in your own generation, with whom you were raised, pass, is a major life change.

I've written before about "moving up" in the line of chairs as relatives pass through this life. 

Losing a sibling, I would imagine, is like moving up and over and realizing there are no more seats left to occupy after all parents, brothers and sisters have left this life.

Without siblings, I reached the head of the line with the death of my parents. My father passed my first year of college and my Mom last year. 

Drawn to visit, to pause and to remember the good that we do for and with others is the most positive part of our continuing lives and memories that remain when we have departed.

Miss you Mom. And, dear brother-in-law, have great memories of times together and the blessings knowing you brought into our lives. Your gifts were many, your challenges as well, but you lived and were a part of life and love in our family, Downs Syndrome did not define you or our family.

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