Ya’ll, bear with me. I have to do one more post about our trip to Texas, while I am still in the nostalgia bubble. Soon enough, we can get back to the terribly important business of whatever I was doing before I fell into the deep well of memories of my Texas youth.
One thing is clear, I definitely do not know the etiquette for visiting a cemetery. I have actually never visited one until yesterday, when my dad graciously escorted us through the Forreston cemetery, where many of my family members were laid to rest. A cemetery is such a beautiful, solemn, and quiet place. It’s impossible not to reflect in a cemetery, I found. Surrounded by all those graves with their final dates and well wishes carved in stone, it’s kind of hard to take myself quite so seriously when staring at grave stones that bear my family name. I was especially moved by the site for my paternal grandparents: John (“Jodie”) and Virginia Tate. I was futzing with my camera and trying to hold on to Simon, when I looked up and saw Sadie sitting on Virginia’s side of the tomb stone munching away on her veggie straws. I opened my mouth to implore her to take her picnic snack to someone else’s spot (how about Ella Mae Morrison, Sadie, she’s been gone about 110 years), but couldn’t bring myself to do it. This is about the closest that Virginia and Sadie will ever be, so why not have a snack with your great-grandmother? No one approved of a good snack more than Virginia. Here’s a veggie straw for you, Grandma, you wouldn’t believe how far kids’ snacks have come in the decade since you passed.
I saw my great-uncles’ and my great-aunts’ graves, along with my great-grandfather’s grave, which is how I learned that he married a woman named Lucy who passed away at the tender age of 34, but being the resourceful type, he just married her sister, Carrie Sue. I like that in forefathers: the tenacity and the can-do spirit. I appreciate the “if you die, I’ll find your cute little sister and make her my wife” spirit that I would like to believe runs through my veins (I hope to apply that spirit in very different ways, though, with all due respect to my brother-in-law).
I will say that there is nothing more melancholy that a grave for little ones who perished before ever celebrating a first or second birthday. Holding Simon and reading about little souls who were born in 1933 and passed in 1934, I just held tight to Simon’s chubby aliveness and whispered prayers of gratitude for antibiotics, hand sanitizer and medical science in general. I was a little afraid that Sadie might ask me a deep or probing question about what the stones meant or what I was looking at. She didn’t. For Sadie, it was just snack time in a funny park with lots of marble and stone to climb and butterflies to chase. Lucky for her. Someday I hope her offspring (or her offsprings’ offspring) feel free to come and lounge on my final resting spot with all manner of tasty snacks, but they better dust the crumbs on Jeff’s side because I take great pride in being ever so much neater than Jeff in life and plan to continue that trend in the great Hereafter.