The Cemetery

I never go to a cemetery alone. No matter how foolish it may seem, if I am going to pay my respects to those who have passed, I always take someone with me. Although cemeteries offer that peace and quiet which I love, I do not wish to be there alone. When I was a senior in high school one summer I babysat for my niece Judy, who was a few years younger than I and lived about 2 or 3 miles up the road from us. My aunt worked in town and my uncle is a farmer who daily had to be out and about tending to the farm, so they hired me to be a companion for her during those summer months. I would walk to their house each day, then when her mother returned from work, she would drive me home. Along this route was a cemetery. A very old cemetery. My steps always quickened as I walked by and I NEVER, EVER looked in. I don’t know if the fact that I did not acknowledge it made me feel safer, but I can tell you this, my feet wouldn’t take me fast enough past it! Grandpa and I always drove past this cemetery on Sundays and I confided my fear of it to him early one early morning on our way to Sunday School. “ I hate walking by there.” I told him as we drove by. “ Really? Why?” He asked. To be honest I do not recall the exact conversation but my Grandfather always had a way, just like my father did, of helping you figure everything out and see it for exactly what it was. “ There are some people that you have known in that cemetery, and they can’t come back to life. But if they could, do you think that they would hurt you?” I can distinctly remember my answer. “ Nope, but what about the ones that I don’t know?” I had a point. Grandpa just laughed. “ Well, I reckon you’ll just have to keep walking fast then.” He also threw in comments about faith and trusting, but I had remembered a few sermons myself. Ones that taught about making good decisions and avoiding things that you weren’t sure of or thought might cause you some trouble. So that, my friends, is the path that I took. I stayed away.
I decided this week that I was going to go to that cemetery and confront my fears, park the car, and actually walk around and look at some of the gravestones. I did just that on Tuesday, October 12th, which was a beautiful sunshiny day. Farmers were in the fields combining corn next to the cemetery along St. Rt. 323 and the beautiful yellow and orange leaves on the trees paid due homage to this scenic fall day. I saw markers of folks that I had grown up around and people that had been neighbors and friends of my family for years. I came upon the gravesite of a gentleman who had been custodian of our school and was loved by teachers  and students alike. I recalled how he was always so happy and ready to listen to whatever it was you had to say.  Among the stones was one of an old school chum who had rode my bus in my teen years and I had not known that she had passed away. I stood there quietly for a little while and thought about her and wondered what it was that had taken her life at such an early age. I took note of the special attention some folks had given to the sights by adding little statues of rememberance. One marker was of a gentleman who must have been a cowboy at heart. It read, Old cowboys never die, they just ride off into the sunset. That brought a smile to my face.  I then walked to a far corner of the cemetery where a huge old maple tree stood near a fence, a good distance away from most of the markers. A blue-jay flew by and disappeared into the cornfield and a brown squirrel looked at me curiously  from high above on a limb of the tree. The next thing I am about to tell you is true, although with the nature of this story and the fact that Halloween is just a few days away, you may find it hard to believe, but I do have a witness. That’s right, a witness. You didn’t think that I went there by myself, did you? Definitely not. I said I went there to confront my fears, but doing it alone was not in the plans! My sister can attest to the fact that lying against the tree was a cement slab of stone about the size of an 8×10” picture frame and probably about 2 or 3 inches thick. I examined it closely and seeing that it was blank, I turned it over. There were only 2 letters that appeared on the other side and those two letters were J.M. My initials. Nothing else. I stared at it for a moment, then looked over at my sister who had a serious look on her face. “ That’s absolutely crazy,” I spoke after a few minutes of silence. She spoke in a matter-of-fact voice, “ It doesn’t mean anything.”
Really? Was this just one of those freaky coincidental things that happen in life, or was the cemetery getting it’s last laugh on me? I had to wonder. But there are two good reasons why I won’t let it continue to haunt me. 1.) There were no dates on the marker( Thank goodness!) and 2.) You can believe this as well, I won’t be returning.
Finding a perfect tie-in  recipe for this story failed. However, if you make the following one, I can promise that it will quickly disappear!
Quick-To-Make  Lemon Cream Pie
1- 12 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 eggs YOLKS
Mix together the milk, lemon juice and the lemon zest
Blend in the 3 egg yolks
Pour into a 9 inch baked and cooled pie crust
Top with whipped cream
Chill at least 3 hours
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One Response to The Cemetery

  1. Marte says:

    Love this story, maybe because I actually enjoy walking through old cemeteries and reading the inscriptions, imaging how the people were, etc. I especially love an old cemetery in Oslo where many of Norway’s greatest writers are buried, close to each other, in an “honor’s section.” Glad you went to confront your fears! Try going back alone sometime, but maybe after Halloween! Good writing as usual and I really like the way you tie your recipe into the context.

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