Walking the Cemetery

Here’s something I don’t do often: just write an essay and throw it out there for no good reason. I’m posting today on what would be one of my “off” days because I want to share it with people from my hometown. Most of them will be able to see the lake, the fence, the headstones. They’ll experience that breeze blowing through the trees off in the corner of the woods. Perhaps they’ll remember one particular day…

Here you go, Lakeview. I don’t come around much any more, but I think of you still.

_____________________________________________

Walking the Cemetery by Paula Geister

We weren’t creepy kids. My best friend, Sandy, and I were just curious, and we found something that ended up being a learning experience when curiosity took us to the local cemetery. For the life of me, I can’t remember what prompted that first visit, but walking the cemetery became something we did fairly often.

Lakeview Cemetery was off the beaten path, but still in the village limits of our small town. A right turn off Lincoln Avenue, the main street through Lakeview, and you eventually came to the wrought iron gate of the cemetery.

Just inside the gate stood a marker. After such a long time, I don’t remember anything of significance it might have had written on it. The gate and marker only fascinated us on the first visit. We learned to walk the length of the narrow road to Lakeview Cemetery because we knew what we’d find.

Some would say our visits did have “creepy” written all over them. But we carefully avoided stepping on graves, and took our time exploring each time we went. Whether walking under overhanging shade trees or in the summer sun, we found small headstones and large family markers. Names familiar and names only the dead knew. Carved into each marker we were discovering our heritage, strange as those people were to us.

With sadness, we rubbed our fingers along a stone’s mossy face, trying to make out a faded etching. Our little hamlet was almost 100 years old. How old was the cemetery? How long had it taken for weather and time to erode those names, just as the memory of the folks buried there had disappeared?

In the oldest section of the property, we followed a curving trail. Situated on Tamarack Lake and tucked into the corner of a woods, the cemetery could be beautiful if you had the right mind set. We considered it beautiful. It’s possible we didn’t even know we were being creepy.

The more we visited the cemetery and walked through it, the more we discovered about our town. We also discovered more about life and death. As if watching a movie for the second or third time, we’d see something significant that was missed on a previous trip.

One time it was the baby.

That headstone was old. Terribly old, and even sadder than the moss and lichen growing on other headstones. Sandy and I were only teenagers. It was difficult for us to imagine a baby in a grave. Walking the cemetery was teaching lessons we didn’t expect to learn. But we always left feeling peaceful. Even invigorated.

Time eventually takes loved ones from us. So cemeteries have a purpose. They’re a place for not only the dead to rest, but for the living. For some reason, we have a need to visit our dead and pay respect to them even when they’re gone.

I’m told that elephants respect their dead in profound ways. Film crews shooting a documentary captured a herd of elephants on their way to find water during a drought. The elephants’ lives hung in a balance; it took days for them to finally find water. Yet on the way, they came to an elephant burial site. The herd stopped. They stood at the site and were still and quiet for over an hour.

How did they know? Were elephant bones strewn on the ground? Was there a scent only they could detect? Had they traveled that way before on a trip to find water and members of the herd had perished there? Is that elephant memory? Those questions don’t really need answers. The elephants were doing what elephants do.

And as creepy as it might seem, we do what comes naturally for us. We stand quietly or kneel at the grave site. We have conversations with our friend, parent, spouse, sibling. Whomever. We leave flowers, flags, notes, and trinkets. We weep. Others show no emotion at all.

We do it for ourselves. We may not walk the cemetery to discover our heritage, but we walk a familiar path and connect once again. We know our time is coming and for some reason, the marker and that little plot give us peace.

Today I know I can visit my home town cemetery and find a few loved ones buried there. My parents. Two neighbor girls who died unexpectedly and tragically. And Sandy, my best friend, has been buried there for over thirty years.

I’d love to talk and laugh with her again. For a while after her death, someone would do or say something to make me think of her. “Sandy would have appreciated that,” I’d think. Then I’d remember that little plot by the lake where she rests. I’d be quiet and still, doing what I do. Feeling peaceful and even invigorated.

As creepy as that might sound.

 

© 2016 Paula Geister

She’s Discovering a New Sooz

For a fellow blogger, Discovering Sooz ,  who writes an eclectic assortment of posts.

I think I might get brave like Sooz and post Before & After photos of myself one day. When I’ve reached goal weight.

Thanks for your honesty and for your fun and thought-provoking posts. This one’s for you.

losing-weight-graphic-crop

I Have Here in My Hand

I don’t really have a list in my hand. I don’t have a band to give me a drum roll. But –– ta-da! –– here’s a list of the Top Ten posts from 2016. Here in my corner of the world, I enjoyed taking stock and reviewing the past twelve months.

Writing The Fruitful Life is its own reward so I don’t get into looking at hit counters and other stats too much. I don’t have crowds of followers. Frankly, I’d rather write and convince people to follow Jesus.

However, it’s nice at the end of the year to see which posts were favorites of the readers.

The list of the Top Ten Posts from 2016 (in order) might give you an idea of the tastes of the readership. When I do take time to look at stats, it’s also fun to see that readers come from all over the world. In November, when The Upper Room published a devotion I wrote, people flocked to the blog through the link UR supplied. That was kind of fun.

In addition to this list, people cruised the “About” pages and the Archives. I’m not savvy enough to know how it all works. But like I said, writing about my faith and hobbies in which I’m involved is the best reward. Most of these posts are faith-based.

Anyway, here’s the list. Click on the links if you’d like to read them. If you’ve been reading for a while, did you have one you particularly liked that didn’t make the top ten list?

  1. Mom’s “Notes to Self”
  2. Follow Your Heart?
  3. A Visit to Zootopia
  4. Goin’ Fishing
  5. Calm
  6. Storefront Churches
  7. Foodie, Zucchini and Grace
  8. Live Christmas All Year Long
  9. Five Ways to Tell if Someone Loves Jesus
  10. A Three-Word Prayer for Serenity

Stars Shine in Sunshine

A fellow blogger has offered a writing challenge. Bukkypraiz has requested we write a haiku poem.

Haiku is a Japanese style of poetry with strict forms. While there are other ways to write a haiku, this form is most recognizable and popular. Three lines in which the first line has five syllables; second line, seven syllables; and third line, five syllables.

Haiku poetry most often is distinguished by appealing to the senses. They create a word picture and are written in the present tense. Here is my offering for the challenge, which required using the word “Shine.”

big and little dippers

Stars Shine in Sunshine

Stars come out at night

but also shine secretly

concealed by sunlight.

Here’s a bonus haiku of mine written many years ago.

River Talk

Slow river murmurs

secrets to the shore, and in

the reeds it giggles.

Turrets of the Castle

Today’s challenge was easy as far as selecting a subject. Not so easy getting the shot since this home sits on a busy street corner. My favorite elements of the structure, which we call The Castle, are the turrets. People live in the house, but probably feel like they’re in a tourist attraction. If you have friends visiting, it’s customary to drive by with them so they can see it too.

The Castle Architecture

Castles are cool. And I’ve liked dwellings made of stone since I was a child. This home sits in one of the historic neighborhoods of our fair city.

Treasures

Let me tell you about my little Bible with the bonded leather cover.

It was one of the first Bibles I purchased for myself when I finally decided to go back to church and get serious about following Christ. Mom might not have approved of my scribblings in the margins or the highlighting and underlining, but this surely has helped me to make this Bible a Treasure.

Obviously, this little Bible has seen a lot of use. In fact, I’ve used it so much and marked it up so much that I’m sometimes stymied to find a passage unless I have this one in front of me. Measuring 6 5/8 inches x 4 3/8 inches, the type is pretty small. That’s okay; I can still read it with my old lady reading glasses.

Treasure-Bible

My “treasure,” which is the subject of today’s blogging photo challenge, was with me in a near-fatal auto accident thirteen years ago next month. It has brown stains from transmission fluid on some of the pages. That’s okay too. A  couple of years following the accident, I decided I’d better have the strap sewn back on by a local tailor before it fell off. It was hanging on by a thread as a result of the beating it took. When I mentioned that feature to a friend she said, “Kind of like you were.” She knew the details of the accident and how blessed I was to be alive.

For this photo, my Bible is open to John chapters 15-17. Chapter 17 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible because Jesus prays for us. To think that Jesus knew he was going to his death and wanted to talk to his Father about us sometimes makes me weep.

Those words are treasures to me.

 

Sew and Sew

The challenge today is to depict a “connection.” With this photograph, I’m showing you how crocheted edgings are being connected to pillowcases. On the occasion of my mother’s funeral, Dad told us five sisters to go through some of Mom’s things to pick out something we’d like. We went through the drawers in the buffet where she kept her large tablecloths and found these edgings which her mom, my grandmother, crocheted. I’m guessing they were done some time in the 60s. She died late in that decade.

I took the crochet work home and cleaned them up because after all that time, they’d yellowed. Now, after connecting the edgings to the pillowcases, each of my siblings and their spouses are going to get a little bit of Grandma after all these years.

They’ll also have a connection to Grandma they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make.

lace on pillowcases

 

Chicken Crossing

For today’s WordPress blogging challenge, I took a trip down one of my favorite local country roads. This family sells fresh eggs and raises miniature horses. See the colt and its mother? The farm scene isn’t fully captured here and, sad to say, my photo doesn’t do it justice. But in my mind, for a rather busy country road, the scene is idyllic. I could live here.

chicken crossing