I had a couple of heart burdens to take care of yesterday.
I made what might be the last trip to my parents’ house to accomplish the last few things I needed to do, mostly picking of the last stragglers I plan to keep or return to relatives. Even though the interior of the house looks completely different than when my parents were living there (much furniture and most small items are gone, the walls are all painted, and there is new carpet throughout, all the original artwork from relatives and photographs are off the walls) Mom and Dad’s presence hits me like a punch to my gut when I’m there. And all the memories we made over 33 years fill each room. It’s hard to be there.
It will be hard never being there again.
Fortunately Mark was there with me. He followed me around in silence.
The second heart burden was a trip to the cemetery where I haven’t been since the day of Dad’s funeral with it’s gun salute from the Korean War Veterans. The cemetery is a little over an hour’s drive from home. We planned to make the trip to check on the gravesites and make sure no dead and dried up flower bouquets were still hanging around. We also planned to plant grass.
Although I had dreaded making this trip, the cemetery visit was actually much easier than I had imagined it might be. I don’t feel Mom and Dad’s presence there at all. I have a couple of memories of taking them there to visit Annie’s grave, but their presence does not linger there.
The graves were clean and neat and looked like fresh top soil had recently been applied. Mark walked around on them to test how compacted they were and decided they were not ready for grass seed yet. They still have some settling to do.
The gravestone is shaded in this photo, but you might be able to see that it has not yet been engraved with the death dates. We didn’t know if that was something that was prearranged or if we needed to call someone to do it. We decided to stop by the cemetery office on our way out to find out if and when they planned on seeding the grass, and what we needed to do about the gravestone.
The short answers are that they take care of the grass and will continue to add soil to the graves as it settles over what usually takes about six months. Then they will plant the grass. We need to contact the gravestone provider who will contract an engraver to come out and take care of the stone.
But here’s the bright light in this otherwise rather dull and somewhat gray post. I inquired about little WWII and Korean War marker flags I had seen at grave sites. The man at the office was very friendly and told me the cemetery provided those and they would put one at Dad’s grave since I’d asked. He then proceeded to ask me for the identifying information. I had already explained that both Mom and Dad had died in January.
“Where is this grave exactly?” he asked me. I told him it was near the back corner of the cemetery. It was beside another Smith gravestone of my aunt and uncle’s, and it was a plot with three graves on it. I explained about Annie.
“Now I know which one it is,” he said. “Some of the people who were hanging around after the funeral were talking about your mother. They said she took care of her daughter for a long time.”
“Yes,” I said, “she took care of her for 51 years.”
“She must have been a real gift,” he said. “I couldn’t do that.”
And before I knew it, the words were out of my mouth, “Sure you could,” I said. And then I caught myself and added, “That’s what she would have said. That’s what she always told people who told her that they couldn’t do it.”
“Yes, you could,” Mom always insisted. “Yes you could.”