The cemetery

I walked up the street from my mother’s house to the small cemetery that is the final resting place for many in this small community.  I went to where I remembered my grandmother’s grave being and found it almost immediately.  I looked at it.  2003.  That’s when she died.  She was 80 years old.  My father, her son, only lived to be 74 years old.  Granted, he was almost 75 years old, but he passed away shortly before his birthday.  I took a few photographs of my grandmother’s headstone.  Flush with the ground and set in cement, the pinkish marble looked more ornate than I had remembered it when I had last seen it 16 years ago.  We spread rose petals over it because she always loved my mother’s rosebushes.  Today, I had no rose petals for her, nor did I have any words right away.  I turned about and walked over to my friend’s grave.  Tim.  Tim Gilliland.  He was only 14 when he died.  The circumstances were tragic and I had no words for Tim, either.  I simply took a few photos and moved on.  I wandered through the graveyard in the sun, looking at how many military veterans were buried there, visiting the graves at the far edge of the cemetery that may never be known to anyone else, looking around at the family names and clusters of family members buried with their plots together…  I wandered around, looking at the graves until I came back to my grandmother’s grave.  I still had no genuine words, but I said, “Well, Grandma, by now you know that Dad passed away.  I love you.”  I moved on to the rest of the cemetery from there.  I felt the oppressive heat of the sun beating down on me and knew that I had to head back to my mom’s house soon.  Some of the headstones were crumbling.  Others had large flakes that had come off and were simply lying against the headstones themselves.  One headstone had fallen over, and it looked like it had been face-down for some time.  I wondered who does the upkeep of the small cemetery, and if they think about the dead as they care for the plots that keep them in someone’s memory, even if only their own.  I headed back down the street to my mother’s house, thinking that my pop doesn’t even have a place to be visited.  He didn’t want one.  He exists only in the memories of those who knew him and no one wandering through any cemetery will ever know him or wonder who he was.  I thought about what I want.  What do I want when I die?  I’m a Veteran, so I could have a headstone.  I could even be buried in the national cemetery nearby.  Where do I want to be buried?  Do I want to be buried?  I know I want to be cremated…I think.  All this thinking about death in the heat made me quite ill and I laid down for an hour or so in the house with the fan on to cool myself and see if I could get the nausea to go away.  I felt ill.  Death will do that to a person…

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