Friday, May 9, 2008

The Visit

About 15 years ago, I discovered the value of having a site where one could acknowledge and visit one's ancestors. I was at a week-long Writing Conference in Iowa, and mid-week we were given the afternoon off to do as we please. A fellow participant who had a car asked if I wanted to go with him to check out the surrounding country. We drove on back roads for several hours, stopping to look at various sites and that's how we discovered a very old and overgrown cemetery. We stayed there for a couple of hours, wading through knee high wildflowers and studying headstones. We sat beneath a giant old tree with dripping Spanish moss and wrote in our journals for a long time. That's when the desire hatched to have a place where I could visit my parents who had both passed on.

At the time, my dad's ashes were sitting on the shelf in my closet. I wrote in my journal that I wanted to put those ashes in a cemetery like the one in which I was sitting. It took some planning and help from my siblings, but we purchased a plot at Carter's Cemetery in Tuolumne and had two headstones made: one for my mom and one for my dad.

On the appointed day, Andy and I went to the place on his property where we had buried our mom's ashes. We wanted to transport what remained of her ashes to the cemetery. We dug in the dirt beneath the rhododendren bushes and found the metal piece that was placed in her casket before it was put in the crematorium, so we knew we had what we wanted. Then we went to the cemetery and settled our parents in their new resting places.

Each year on my birthday, I visit the memorial markers for my parents at Carter's Cemetery. It's the sweetest cemetery, and I like telling my parents about all that has happened in my life since I last visited.

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