Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Visit to the Cemetery

It was mid-October and we were on our way to the Halloween Store.  Nine-year-old Grandson was looking for a specific costume and Mom said it was OK for us to buy it. 

We were greeted by a green monster towering over the store entrance. Spider webs coated the walls, sinister clowns popped out from dark corners, and it seemed that every aisle held rows of face paint, glitter and freaky masks, just in case you hadn't noticed them earlier. 

There were rather ghoulish hands dripping fake blood, horrible witch masks covered in warts and frightening looking mummies, bandages coming undone. I'm glad the grands are old enough to know it's all for show; most of it was rather distasteful to my eyes.

We did not find the longed for costume (don't ask me which one, it's from a TV show or something). Eleven-going-on-twelve-year-old Granddaughter told me she would make her own costume and it was to be a surprise! No hints!

On our way home, Granddaughter asked if we could visit the cemetery, where her great-grandparents were buried.  As it was a mild and pleasant day and I was in no hurry to get the children back home, I agreed. Besides, they'd been asking for ages and it never seemed to be the right time, or it was too cold, rainy, snowy, whatever...

I parked the car close to the spot and we walked among the headstones towards my parents grave. The children were entranced. I don't think they'd ever been in a cemetery before. It was all new to them and different than whatever they'd seen on TV.  This was real.

Nathan commented on the abundance of flowers embellishing certain graves and how others looked so barren. Jasmine was interested in reading the info on the stones. 
"Oh my goodness, this person died way way before my Mom was born!  Maybe even you, Grandma and you're old!"  I had to laugh. 

I let them explore and eventually we came to my parents grave. They had been cremated and their ashes buried together (way back in 1998). 

"Where are the flowers?" Nathan looked at me curiously. 
"Um, well, I haven't been here in quite a long time."  Actually it had been years. 
"Can I take some from this grave (he pointed to one nearby) and give it to Great Grandma and Grandpa?"  

Eeks! I was horrified, but calmly replied "No, that's not very nice. We don't do that."
"But they have lots and lots of flowers!" Couldn't argue with a child's logic, but it just didn't seem right.
"Tell you what, we'll look in the woods over there and pick one for your great grandparents."
So off we went in search of a wildflower or two. 

We happened to pass some metal plaques lying flat in the ground. Some were so old the writing had worn off; others marked the final resting place of soldiers, who had fought overseas.
"Oh, can I step on those?"
"NO!  Sorry Nate, but that's not a respectable thing to do."
"Well, why not? They're dead."  Hmmm. How on earth to explain to a little boy.
"Let's just find some flowers."

Anxious to get back on track, I hurried them along. We found some pretty blue flowers growing amongst the dead leaves and milkweed pods and were on our way back when little Nate noticed that some people had made arrangements of stones on their loved ones graves. 
"Can we take some of these stones for Great Grandpa and Grandma?"

"No, we can't do that!  It's almost like stealing." Well, it wasn't really, but I couldn't think of anything else to say and I'd grown tired of the "it's not nice" refrain.
He nodded his head, but I could see he wasn't completely convinced.

"I'm sure we can find a stone or two and perhaps next time we come out here we'll bring a candle and whatever you think Great Grandpa and Grandma would like."
"A soccer ball? I think Great Grandpa might want to play soccer. And Great Grandma might want a garden."
"Oh, I think the flowers will cover the garden part, but very kind of you, Nathan."

Finally we were back at the grave. Jasmine arranged the wildflowers solemnly on the headstone. Nathan pulled out the smooth rock he had found in the dirt and carefully wiped it clean on the adjacent headstone before I could stop him.
He then placed it respectfully on his Great Grandparents grave. 
I didn't say a word - at this point I'd given up.

But I'll bet my parents, being down-to-earth and practical in their lifetime, must have been rolling over with laughter just about now.


mxtodis123 said...

Awe. I can just picture it. I'm as fascinated with graveyards as your grandchildren were. I read all the stones, especially the very old ones. My hubby and I took a trip out to the place I grew up a couple of years ago and we hit a couple of graveyards in search of my ancestors.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Kids will be kids and always are curious. I haven’t visited my parent’s graves in about five years as it is not close by. I keep their memory close by me though because they are always in my heart.

Anvilcloud said...

Those two are the same ages as my two.

Shammickite said...

I'm unable to visit my parents grave as they lived in another country.... England. I last went to the graveyard in 2012.
I don't think my grandies (10, 9 and twin 7s) have ever been to a graveyard and they have no concept of what being dead really means. I think Nathan and Jasmine enjoyed their new experience investigating the past with you and learned a new respect for history of the family. And as you said, your parents LOVED IT!

Anonymous said...

They sure had good intentions but, I agree, somethings just shouldn't be tampered with.

Cheryl said...

I find that extremely beautiful Wendy.
The innocence of children.
Time moves on.
Only one thing that matters and that is they were there asking questions.
I walk through a churchyard most days with Nella.
They are such peaceful places.

Elephant's Child said...

What a lovely outing - for you all.
I do hope that your parents WERE laughing. And smiling.

Ruth said...

I love graveyards and my children have visited many with me over the years. My husband and his siblings are faithful in planting flowers to their parents' graves so our girls were involved with watering throughout the summer months. It is good to visit and remember our families

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your Grands are lucky that they haven't had to deal with death in their short lives. We have a large enough family that it seems that there is always someone passing away.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I forgot to mention the orchids in your photo. They are so pretty. Have a great week. Try to keep warm. Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hello.

Nadezda said...

Children often do not understand what is allowed and what is not, Wendy. I agree that we should tell them a lot.
Thanks for stopping by my blogadezda

Lowcarb team member said...

This was so special.
What a lovely outing for you all.

All the best Jan

stardust said...

Hello, again! I imagined what the cemetery was like where you visited as I’ve seen some photos of atmospheric cemetery. Your grandchildren would have learned a lot about what to do and not to when paying a visit to cemetery. The sleeping ancestors must have been smiling. The orchids are so beautiful.


Beth Niquette said...

You are a wonderful writer! I was riveted to the end. What a thoughtful, magical entry! Thank you, too for your comments on my blog. ((HUGS)) It is good to hear from you, Wendy. <3