Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cemeteries, Gravestones and Procrastination

I've always loved roaming around old cemeteries. They're so peaceful and serene, quietly shaded, and curiously inviting; the type of place that makes me want to sit for awhile, a place to perhaps read an old classic novel while leaning back against an old, sturdy headstone. I've never done that, read a novel in a cemetery. But I'd like to.


Irish Grove's cemetery is especially beautiful. And yes, I'm partial. But what can be more beautiful, peaceful and inviting than a rural church surrounded by the crumbling gravestones of its founders and the newer, shiny gravestones of its more recent members?


So you'd think a few simple requests to find the grave sites of my reader's ancestors would be pretty easy for me to honor, right? Well, unfortunately not.


You see, Irish Grove's lovely cemetery was a place I loved to roam up until that fateful day that one of my own was buried there. And now that Dad's there, the cemetery has become a place to avoid. It's the one place where I can't gloss over the pain of loss, where I can't deny reality, the one place where I'm forced to grieve.


But I go. I do. I force myself to take deep breaths and think positive thoughts, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. I send my kids to jump on their Grandpa's stone, to "wrestle him" like they used to, which makes me smile and laugh one of those forced laughs....you know the kind. And I think to myself, "If I keep coming here, it'll get easier." It will, right?


But today, as I drove to the cemetery to finally take some photos of someone else's relatives and someone else's history, ancestry, and quite possibly grief, my stomach started to tighten up. I mean, how could I justify going to the cemetery and not go visit Dad's grave? What kind of daughter am I, anyways?


But then......well, I saw something. Something, I am ashamed to say, that prompted a sigh of relief to escape through my lips. A lawnmower. I was saved by a lawnmower!! There was a young man mowing the cemetery lawn and I couldn't have been happier to see him. I mean, I can't go visit my Dad's gravesite and cry in front of a teenage boy, now can I? The poor boy is just trying to make a little money. Probably saving up for college. And he was so content, sitting there listening to his iPod and driving around headstone after headstone. Some old lady crying would make him really uncomfortable, and you must agree that that wouldn't have been very nice of me.


So, Fox's and Cuff's......please thank the local teenage lawnmowing boy for your photos. Without him, who knows how much longer it could've taken for you to get these.


And please accept my apologies for the delays, especially you, Rex. You've waited far too long for this:



PATRICK CUFF


DIED
Oct. 21, 1817


Aged 52 years




Here's the headstone, up close:






Here is the view behind the stone:






Here's the stone as it's found in relation to the church. It's the small headstone on the right side of the picture:



For the Fox family:

THOMAS FOX

1815 - 1891

SARAH FOX

1813 - 1891

and THOMAS

son of J.B. & C. Fox

Erected solely by J. B. Fox

I must admit that my family and I had to chuckle at that last sentence on the stone. We meant no disrespect, but there must be a good story there somewhere!

Here's a close-up of the gravestone:


And here is where the headstone is found in relation to the church:

Irish Grove really is beautiful. Maybe I will take that book on over.....

4 comments:

Jeanne Plumb said...

Hi Jackie,

I was so moved by your thoughts about the graveyard and visiting or not visiting your dad's grave. I remember one day I went to the cemetery to visit my sister's grave (it had been over a year since I had last been) and I couldn't find it. I was beside myself with guilt and anger at myself until I realized that she really isn't there anymore and was probably sitting up on some cloud outside heaven laughing her head off at me. I still stop by there once in a while but I know that, if I want to "visit" with her, I don't have to go there anymore. Your dad would be so proud of the woman you have become. I kind of believe that everything happens for a reason in life. If you need something to help you understand the senselessness of his death at too young of an age, maybe it spurred you on to becoming the independent, spunky, wonderful farmer that you are today. Not that you wouldn't have been so if he hadn't died. But, you are probably much more capable to do it on your own with Marcel, of course. And, I think your dad might be sitting up there on the cloud next to my sister enjoying every minute of your life along with you. So, if you are uncomfortable at the cemetary, that's OK. Go if you want, cry if you want. Or don't go. Either way, your dad is there with you, working through you while you use every lesson he ever taught you.

Love, Jeanne

piscesgrrl said...

If I wasn't already teary from your post, I sure am after reading Jeanne's comment!

*gulp*

I'm with ya, sis.

Anonymous said...

We really did love that you went to the cemetery and looked up those stones for us! Knowing how difficult it was for you makes it that much more special.
We too wonder about the Fox inscription, but have no clue to why it says what it does???
Our very best wishes to you and yours!
Sondra Byrne
Robert Fox
Jim Harris

Jackie said...

You're welcome, Fox family. As hard as it is to visit the cemetery, I really do love a good 'scavenger' hunt and would love to know the history behind it all, as well. I've called the local historical society to find out more about the cemetery and see if there's information out there about specific families that are buried there. If I find something interesting, I'll post it for sure.

Be well! Jackie