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 The Funeral

 

Cemetery’s only been there 80 or 90 years 

 

 

First sign we had of the impending event was a guy in the hayfield. He’d parked at the lower gate. Acted like he’d lost something. The hay was arm pit high, ready for mowing. Somebody tramping around in it wasn’t going to do it any good. My husband went down to set him straight.

Said he was looking for the cemetery. It sure wasn’t in our hayfield. He was directed to the cemetery up behind the barn, after his lesson in farm manners.

Knew it was his first trip or he’d had a better idea about where it was located. Cemetery’s only been there 80 or 90 years judging by the dates on the headstones. What had stirred his interest now?

People come by every now and then to visit their dearly departed. Park up at the end of the road leading to the cemetery. Pay their respects. Go on about their business.

One summer, a guy from town brought his lawnmower and weedwacker out. Cleaned the whole place. "My Mom’s folks are here. She planted the flowers in here and out by the road", he had explained. "She’s gone on now, just like to do what I can to keep the place up." Every year we enjoy the fruits of her labors - daffodils, jonquils, crocus, sweet william, and pussywillow flourish in abundance.

"We know somebody from out of state that drives a big Cadillac?", my daughter-in-law asked when she came in the kitchen. "It’s parked in the driveway and they’re gettin’ out." I was getting a batch of dried mint ready to put in vacuum sealed jars. Put down what I was doing to go see who our visitors were.

A retirement age couple and a tiny fragile looking older lady came down the hill. The wife spoke first, her husband and his mom just looked on. We exchanged the normal pleasantries then she got down to the reason for her visit. "I was raised here", she began. For some time she proceeded to tell us how the house and farm looked when she and her siblings grew up here. We toured the inside of the house. Settled in the kitchen for cool drinks. She went on. A couple of months earlier her brother had died. As he had instructed, his remains were cremated. What he had wanted done with the remains was the reason she had come.

The brother had spent many happy hours as a boy, squirrel hunting on this farm. He asked that his ashes be spread over his favorite hunting ground, a rather steep mountain across the wetland facing the house. I envisioned this whole bunch of senior citizens climbing up that mountain to spread his ashes - not a pretty sight. Probably have to have another funeral to two following that expedition.

Seems the family was having pretty much the same thoughts. According to his sister , the out of state and local family members had discussed at length what to do about his request. "We’ve decided to bury his ashes in the family cemetery up here, if that’s okay?" she concluded. Silently breathing a sigh of relief, I assured her that was fine with us. First week of October was the time they chose for the burial. Still a few months away.

Without further ado the date arrived. Early that crisp October morning, a local funeral home sent out a worker to make the usual arrangements. Set up a tent and chairs - dug the gravesite - quite small since it only was to hold an urn of ashes. All was ready for the burial.

Later that day when the family started arriving, we offered the use of our upper driveway for parking. Which they needed, 20 to 30 cars showed up in all. A very respectable turnout.

The horses were in attendance, standing by the fence. We stayed at the house, encouraging the dogs to ignore the crowd. A task we were more or less successful in accomplishing.

After the gravesite ceremony several family members walked around the yard, stopping occasionally, pointing here and there, talking quietly. Some took pictures of the house and the countryside. Reliving a time gone by.

Next morning when I went to the barn to feed the horses, walked around to the cemetery. Partly to pay my respects - partly to be certain the dogs hadn’t been up to pay theirs. They had a habit of digging up whatever we put in the ground. The grave was intact. Marked by a simple homemade concrete headstone. The wishes of this gentleman had been altered slightly due to family circumstances. That’s a fact. One other fact crossed my mind, his remains had made it back to the farm in time for opening day of squirrel season.

 

 

Last updated 23 February 2010

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