So, I think I am going to make Wednesdays a day that I share old writing pieces and have you guys enjoy it. ENJOY!
Graveyards & Grandpas
Most people are terrified by graveyards. Zombies, vampires and other crazy monsters come from graveyards. Here are the quick facts – Zombies are created by bio-weapon viruses and vampires are sparkly and somehow, became sex idols. Graveyards are where the best memories I have were made.
My grandfather and I went to the graveyard every other Sunday afternoon (during the good weather, of course). There were the times we went to the graves just before a major holiday and just after they were over. At the graveyard, there were three headstones we would go to; the first one was my grandfather’s parents, the second one was a very small one and it belonged to his great-grandparents and the third one was much bigger than the rest (it housed five people) and it was his great aunt and her family members. (As a side note, I learned that she was one of the first women to have a master’s degree in English in 1927 – my grandfather wished I would follow her footsteps.)
The ritual started shortly after I learned to walk and was able to take basic directions. The ritual itself had its own yearly time frame. It usually started in the beginning of spring after the last frost; we would go out there and clean up the ground to get ready to the spring flowers. Once spring started to take off, we would go to our neighborhood flower nursery and pick out the best looking flowers. Usually during the same weekend, we would go and plant them. Then our trips during the summer would be about watering the flowers and making everything look decent. That included using Windex on the headstones to make ‘em shine! When the leaves started to fall, that meant cleaning the headstones and the areas around them, for winter. Once winter hit, we would just stop by and pay our respects.
When we started going to the grave as a pair, my grandfather did most of the work. He bought be a mini set of garden tools to help him, but I didn’t really use it much to help. I was running around though the graves by myself. (It’s a graveyard; no one can take me, because they’re dead!) I do not remember the actual time he scolded me, but I still remember the lesson about not running on the graves. He also reminded me that it was like running on their bed (that was a big no-no as a two year old). Still to this day, I do not walk across the graves, I just walk between them.
I remember this story from my grandfather – it was his favorite story to remind me about how sweet children are – and he told any of my new friends this story. The setting of the story is during one of our spring adventures to the graves. We were at his parent’s grave. I was most likely seven or eight (this was my most innocent period of time.) We got all our supplies out and had just started getting busy. Being a normal seven year old, I suddenly noticed that there was a new headstone up and a big, brown rectangle in the middle of the green grass. He said that Mr. Smith had passed away. (I really don’t remember his name, so we will go with the Smiths.) I stated at with a large about of confusion and asked again why there was a big brown rectangle there. He replied that he was buried there. Something must have hit me because I ran to the car and grabbed my little shovel. I got to the rectangle and started to dig. My grandfather with his inhumanly long arms reached over and grabbed the shovel away from me. “What are you doing?” I looked at him with all the sincerity of a seven year old and said, “We need to un-dig him before he dies in there!” Oh, the lesson I learned from that.
When I got older, going to the graveyard was better than going to the playground. The older I got, the more lessons I learned about any given topic. For example, I learned anywhere from the proper way to work with wire (you have to loop or have soft corners it verse making sharp corners on things so it doesn’t break; it is very helpful to go a week before planting and aerate the soil; I learned that death is kind of like taxes – we all get stuck with it. (Or the kid version I still like death is like pooping we all have to do at some point.) Going to the graveyard turned more that I was doing most of the labor and my grandfather was guiding me. It was kind of is like he would start with working with me on the ground to just standing by me to just leaning of the car. I took on more of the chores of our ritual and at times, I was the one that pushed to go to the graveyard.
By the time I got to high school, I was doing most of the talking and doing most of the chores. At the time I thought that my grandfather was just letting me run the show. It didn’t hit until his death that we grow older and do slow down. We lose our abilities; but something my grandfather taught me, indirectly, was that we do not lose our memories. That is something that I am glad that I haven’t lose those important memories, even though I have lost my grandfather.