Cemetery Stories – Calvary

20130919_140552I wasn’t raised Catholic, so I don’t know for certain that all Catholic cemeteries are named Calvary, but in this neck of the woods, if you see a huge “Calvary Cemetery” sign, chances are it’s Catholic.  Which leads me to cemetery #2 on the blog tour of local cemeteries!

I tend not to creep myself out too much during the daylight hours, when it’s easy to scoff at the movement in the shadows or the weird sound coming from across the way.  It’s just the birds, or the wind, or another damn bird.  (I’m a total wimp when night falls, by the way.  The Blair Witch Project still scares the crap out of me and I’m not even sure it was that scary of a film.)

Even with my daytime bravado, I was very thankful I’d read the news in the local paper that the cemetery was having badger problems.  Especially when I came upon this sight:

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(Um, you’re seeing the hole, too, right?)

Badgers.  Not anything trying to escape.  Well, maybe trapped badgers, but that’s all.  That’s all, right?

I wandered through the older graves and took a turn to the newer ones.  I stopped to take this picture…

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…and was instantly transported to days long gone when my parents would stop at “The Cemetery” to visit my grandfather’s grave.  (It was always referred to as “The Cemetery” when I was growing up.  I didn’t even know it had a name until I was leaving for college and thought to ask.)  My grandmother traveled with empty plastic buckets and milk jugs, which we would carry to a spigot much like this one and then lug back.  My dream was to be deemed strong enough to carry one of the full buckets.  After my begging wore them down, I was then deemed too careless to carry the buckets after some water sloshed over the tops.

Tending my grandfather’s grave was a solemn affair.  The geraniums had to be deadheaded and then everyone would gather to appraise the shrubs and discuss whether or not they needed to be dug up and replaced.  Then we’d water whatever needed to be watered and be on our way.  At some point, everyone would peel away from the group for a moment or two and stand at my grandpa’s grave with thoughts too private to share.  Grief and loss were not communal property in my family, at least not between adults and children.

I almost never encounter other people when I visit cemeteries, and I’ve visited many in the past year.  Yet at every cemetery I’ve visited, the signs of mourners are always present.  There are wind chimes, flowers, neatly-clipped shrubs and empty water jugs waiting to be filled.

I’m not sure I’m working up to saying anything profound in this post, just that when I visit cemeteries know, I know to look for the signs of grieving, the work that continues – sometimes publicly, sometimes privately – even when it seems like no one’s ever there.

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