The Family Plot
Memorial Day is here. A three-day weekend that signals the official arrival of vacation fun. But Memorial Day was intended to be a time of remembrance of our fallen soldiers as well as our loved ones that have passed on. For me, Memorial Day has always meant a trip to the cemetery.
Our family cemetery is maybe one-quarter of a mile from my home, located on a gentle slope surrounded by a cow pasture. One must cross a cattle guard to reach it, but no one minds. Nearly all of the habitats are farm folk and they wouldn’t want to be any place else. I went down there early this year to take pictures and think about what I would write for this blog. People start coming to the Bruno Cemetery on the Friday before Memorial Day and continue on through the special day itself. There are family reunions held among the headstones and one has a chance to connect with neighbors not often seen throughout the year. As I was leaving, I chanced upon some more early arrivals. We spoke and quickly learned that my cousin married their cousin, so we greeted each other as family and it was lovely. That is the way of it here; related by marriage is as good as blood, and we are always ready to welcome everyone.
When I was a child we went there early in the morning to place our flowers. Granny would walk me around the graves introducing me to each family member of long ago and telling me their particular history. I had a bunch of single artificial flowers and I would place one at each headstone. Now Granny is gone, as are my parents. I can no longer afford flowers for each grave because they no longer sell the single roses, daisies, and lilies. So I buy two big bunches for Mom and Daddy and Granny and Grandpa. But I always walk the graveyard and remember all of the relatives and say hello to them.
When my husband and I were dating I took him there to “meet” my family. We walked from end to end and I told him all about the family he was marrying into. Remarkably, it didn’t stop him. We walked for hours looking at all of the stones and I told him about the families of the neighborhood as well as the history of the cemetery itself.
My great grandmother Elizabeth was alive when the cemetery was created. Legend has it that a man was hung from the big oak in the lower part of the cemetery by Yankee bushwhackers. After they were gone, the women of the community cut him down and buried him at the foot of the tree. When the next local person died, they buried them there also to keep the stranger company, and the cemetery grew from there.
As with all cemeteries, there are some unique headstones. I used to play among them as a child while the grownups visited. Seeing them now is like visiting old friends. We have all sorts buried in our cemetery. The veteran’s stones didn’t have the flags when I took this picture. Our local VFW always makes sure the flags are there on Memorial and Veteran’s Days. My Daddy was in World War II, but we did not get him the official stone. He was buried with a flag draped coffin and there is always a flag by his headstone on the right holidays. The VFW knows all the veterans, even if they don’t have the official marker. I will leave you now with photos of some of my favorite headstones. May you have a blessed and peaceful Memorial Day.