“I need to go plant flowers at the cemetery this weekend,” I said.
“When you and Dad are gone, will I have to do that?” My daughter brushes a blond strand off her forehead.
“You don’t have to,” I smile.
“I mean, is it my job, my responsibility?”
I shrug. “I like to do it. I don’t know if it’s responsibility so much.” I wink. “Of course, people who drive by will stop and shake their heads and tell each other how sad it is that nobody remembers us.”
She rolls her eyes, and I laugh.
I took the urn fillers out the other day. But this morning I load shovels and a little rake and small pots of geraniums into the Journey.
The day forecasts hot, but there’s a cool breeze. I’ve forgotten my gloves, and so I sift dirt with bare hands, carry sod to the side of the road and toss it into the woods. We see deer back here sometimes.
I pop plants from pots, set in holes, scoop, pat, water. Wipe bird doo off the headstone with my bare hand.
I’d forgotten that Dennis’ grandmother died the same year we were married. (She rests on the other side.) I remember meeting her in the nursing home. Did we go to her funeral? We must have. I don’t remember it, though. Dennis’ mom died when Abby was two years old. We’d just walked into our Georgia home after a two-day drive, and had to turn right around and fly back to Michigan. I can still see her waving goodbye when we left–she was in pain then but didn’t tell anyone. She loved to tell everyone I was a nurse. I’ve always wondered what if I’d been more perceptive . . .
His dad died in 2000. I remember blue and white stripe bib overalls and the John Deere tractor. Retta asked him once what kind of pie he’d like, and he said one of each, and that’s just what he got. He’d often answered questions with a simple “Mebbe.” And Mom would say, “Sheesh, Keith.”
I stretch out under the green canopy. Dad insisted he be buried in the site closest to the tree. My husband and I will lie here one day. Furthest from the trunk.
A small squirrel plays in the grass, birds sing, leaves rustle, and cotton wisps float overhead.
I breathe deep.
This is not a job or a responsibility or a have-to.
This is a privilege.
And an opportunity to remember.
Later I’ll walk around to the other side to where the farm’s second generation rests. Well, except maybe for Sarah who died in 1855 at the age of 6. My husband thinks she was buried in the big house’s front yard.
But for now I’ll slip off my Keens and be still under the family tree. This is sacred sod.
Resurrected from the archives. I seem to be doing that a lot lately.
In the stillness,