Monday, September 26, 2011

On being planted

One of the things that Edmund and I found early on that we had in common was an interest in graveyards. We both enjoy meandering through the old graveyards, reading the history embedded on the stones.  Often on a road trip when we spot an oldish looking graveyard we will stop. As we stroll along the paths around the aging marble monuments to lives well or short lived we read them aloud to one another. So enlightening.
We spend a lot of time with our "parents" his mother and my aunt.  They often ask us to take them down to our community graveyard. There we walk or drive(depending on their energy that day) them around the gravel roadways as they read aloud, the familar names, sharing with us, memories that are inevitably jogged as they pass certain stones of friends long gone or family plots. When they tire of this activity they sit side by side on the cool granite bench facing the graveyard, hands folded, listening to the sounds of silence, and anything nature has to offer, birds, crickets, squirrels and such. They seem at peace there in the quiet of these afternoons.  I sometimes think they sense how close they are to joining all these people that have gone before them.
I had the thought as they wandered around through the gravesites, it must be something akin to looking at new houses and deciding where you want to live. sorta. The other day Aunt Dor figured out that there really isn't any room for her, near "mother, Joyce or Miss Wilde" and she wondered aloud where she would be "planted", perhaps up there on the hill with Dad and Auntie Phyl? she questioned? I guess I better find out.”
This reminds me of a story about Aunt Joyce who had it all planned out before she died. She wanted wedding music, since she never had married and she wanted us to sing O precious sign...got to tell you it was hard getting through that song. She made me promise to spread her ashes with a lot of forget me not seeds and some other perennial flowers...no problem. Consider it done I said confidently.
After she died and we were talking about the service I mentioned this request to my uncles who absolutely forbade it. We had the traditional service and Aunt Joyce’s ashes were buried in this box they came in, beside Grandma Cooper and Miss Wilde. The next morning bright and early...my sister Ginny and I went down to the grave yard and dug up the box....mixed the forget me not seeds into the ashes....and sprinkled Aunt Joyces ashes all around that particular plot where they had buried the box the day before.  After fulfilling her final wish...we left feeling quite pleased with ourselves.
Funerals, services and such are for the living that much is obvious. If I had my druthers I would want to be surrounded by love as I depart this world and as Aunt Dor so aptly put it, as I am planted. I haven't really noticed my thoughts about this until today. I suppose I have assumed I would be buried in the Bryn Athyn Cemetary someday where family and friends could easily walk down there to contemplate their lives on this planet and "visit" me. Me? Will I be there in some parallel world?  To me there is an odd feeling of community in the weirdest sense of the word in this cemetary for me. A connectedness to the past and even a peak into the future, perhaps.
Funny how I have spent so much time there tending to the gardens I planted at the graves of those I have loved and miss in this life. And yet I wonder? Why do I do this if it no longer matters to them. They won't know if I do the upkeep or not. What do they know now that I don't know yet? They finally know the secret. Where are they? Is there a place? Are they all somewhere? or is it the beating of my heart that keeps them alive in my mind still able to make a difference in my life.