Saturday, January 20, 2024

Visiting Mom's Grave: Mémories of Generations

(As valid today as it was when I first wrote this entry in August, 2019.

Needed to feel close again and that meant traveling to Mom's gravesite; a journey of more than 100 miles round trip but worth the time and providing some peace now that I've returned.

Mom was a constant reminder of personal strength and endurance against all the very difficult times and struggles life puts in your path and on your plate. She was always there for me.

Daughter and I are both trying to find full time jobs; we're both working part time and together we can make enough to hold on to our home, buy some groceries and keep the car running -- hopefully. 

With full time jobs, we would be less concerned as these are "gigs" we've found and always waiting for the next one to "appear".

We both had the day off. She needed to return early afternoon so that meant our journey began in the morning.

It's been difficult at my work lately. Challenges I'm not sure I want to continue to endure but because it provides the basis for our keeping a roof over our head and food on the table, I've stuck it out and know I can't walk away until I find another.

Mom's life was her example to me of personal strength and caring beyond yourself. I miss her. At times, more than words can say.

Her death is more recent. My husband's is more than four years as I write and the "adjustment", the "setting in" or settling, like his grave, shows more adjustment to the surroundings and to where he 

Mom's grave has become a little more covered by grass but being in a very rural area (albeit a growing small town area), I don't think they've sown any grass seed but waited for the "natural growth" to take over. There are still a couple of bare spots.

Daughter and I traveled mostly in silence. Each of us having our own life challenges to think about. 

She was the only grand-daughter Mom had and I was her only child, her only daughter.

Mom's face glowed with love for both of us until the day she passed knowing I had my wish, a daughter, a special relationship like we shared for so long, to continue life's journey alongside.

I'd talked about cutting daisies and some remaining daylilies from our garden to take with us and then forgot until we were well on our way. 

This time, that time, my mind was focused while spinning and trying to cope with today like I have with so many yesterdays.

We drove along the highway and suddenly I remembered I'd forgotten to cut the flowers. 

Towns are closer together today than when I was growing up and the road is a divided highway -- not the old one lane in one direction and another going the opposite.

Thankfully I remembered before we went so far that there were no major shopping centers, no place that might have flowers.

Of course, it's today, not "the last century" and there was a major brand store just off the highway where we could buy the flowers and anything else we wanted or needed or not.

We chose pink mini carnations. Roses would wilt too soon and other flowers looked so unreal with their florescent painted petals in shockingly electric colors. And, our funds were very limited.

They needed a bow, I decided, for when we removed them from their plastic wrapper. But a bow didn't seem right. I spotted a tag, a small white gift tag with one word in silver writing: "Love". Perfect, I thought, and daughter agreed.

The drive to the cemetery is off an old "main highway" into the heart of the town that dates into the 1800's. 

Strange how today it's a turn into a new age as we pass modern homes being built and then past a golf course that actually skirts some of the drive to the cemetery. 

The road is narrow and passes a couple of older farm houses and then there's the turn. The road I remember and see again as though through my eyes as a child. It's the same. It's different. 

Recent mowing by what appears to be a large piece of equipment has cut down all the wildflowers I remember growing along the way. 

They used to be what I picked to put on my grandparent's graves as we drove for a visit before heading back across the great river that separated my life from my Mom's old life.

I'm glad we stopped, I think, to pick up the flowers.
The old life is truly gone; no flowers along the way. 
Changes. Differences. 

But the graves, the stone markers, the love that once was and still continues, remains.

I remember Mom talking about her relatives, many of whom now lay in this ground, in this special place where people are gathered together for one last time.

It's different from where my husband now lays. His current resting place is a large cemetery full of religious icons and much larger and grander markers with a few smaller but not spanning as many decades.

Mom's resting place has a couple of larger stones and even some places families have "marked off" with curb like enclosures but mostly gravesites scattered here and there showing placements as far back as the mid 1800's.

People from a small town. Many helping one another; some standing aside and not reaching out. No difference from the "big city" is the small town, just more people, more possibilities.

We visit Mom's site. No headstone yet. We haven't been able to afford one. Maybe that's been somewhat good. I notice some are set on longer stones and raised a little. I like that. 

A mower's gone through here, too. There's perpetual upkeep and being a smaller community the maintenance is better.

Daughter and I wipe some remains of the cut grass from different relatives markers. 

Reading names of Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, people who chose to return here although so many moved away, across the big river, to other towns and even across the country.

Why here? Why did they choose to be buried in this place?

Why did my Mom?

Family. Community. Continuity. 

When life began they were together and now that it has ended, they're together again.

Not all. But many. 

It was her wish to be there and later in her life she made sure she purchased a plot, alongside her oldest sister who was still alive. 

This Aunt isn't buried here, ironically. Her daughter decided to bury her Mom nearer to where she chose to be buried. 

I gave my Mom the resting place she chose even though it's so far from where I believe I'll be and the area where we were so close for so long.

I'm glad for these times I make to stop, to reflect and renew myself whether it's in this place or another.

It's an odd cemetery by some standards. Corn fields surround the burial sites. The road leading to it is paved and then becomes a gravel road until you get to the cemetery and wind up a small hill on a dirt and gravel road that skirts the perimeter and then crosses through the spaces to return to its beginning.

Last time we visited there was a flock of killdeer birds visiting. 
Today it's busy with dragonflies.  

I hear birds calling to one another and listen to the sound of a gentle wind through pine and other trees. Not a lot of trees but enough to give shade and majesty to the site.

Daughter and I start to leave and then turn back. I forgot I wanted to take some pictures of family sites and also of possible headstones. 

I liked the ones that were raised a little off the ground, had their fronts standing straight and not on an angle, were engraved with a few flowers and had a vase attached so flowers could be left by those who visited, those who cared.

I also liked the plaques that had been set in a piece of concrete at the foot of a few graves. Many were placed to mark the service of a man in the military but one had a message of love and caring.

Funny. Never thought about how many in our generation didn't buy the burial plots as early in life as their predecessors. But that thought struck me today.

Was it because my generation had so many new drugs and medical abilities and women didn't die in childbirth as often? 

Or was it because our life expectancy, so we thought, would be like Mom's and not like my husband's?

I told Mom many years ago all I wanted when she passed was to be able to place on her headstone "She traveled the world and now she's on her greatest trip" or words similar to that.  

I gave her the gift of travel; of using her retirement money to go places she'd only read and dreamed about.

My gift to her was a life change from the major challenges she faced as a young girl, a married woman and a woman faced with raising a child by herself in a time when divorce was not acceptable and single parenting totally frowned upon.

Thanks, Mom, for once again being there for me, if only in memory.

I'm also at peace, knowing where you are and visiting that resting place where I know you're "home" with family.

And, by the way, as we wrote, Happy Birthday! 

Love You. We Miss You Very Much.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for your comment on the lewy body blog. My mother once she is in a home will only be able to pay for 3 months then the state takes over. I chose a really nice place- I hope it pulls through with care.


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