He died in January, but we couldn’t bury him until May, Memorial day weekend to be exact. I still remember the veterans at the cemetery and the small flags on each of the graves.
Most people can’t afford to rent the backhoe to be brought in from the city to dig, so everything is done by hand. I know this to be true because I’ve met the gravediggers myself, chest deep in the hole, cutting out a perfect rectangle soon to be six feet deep. They were nice respectable folks and they wouldn’t have bat an eye, if I had told them that Mom had kept Dad on the bedside table until the ground thawed and we could finally lay him to rest. Most people tend to look at you funny when you say things like this. I suppose it’s because most people start imagining the sanitary issues or the smell. Yet you really don’t have to worry about that when the person is cremated. Mom never dared open the box, at least not to my knowledge but I do remember her shaking the small white container and hearing it rattle. At first, we didn’t think that the crematorium had finished the job and it took us a minute to figure out that the sound was caused by his fillings. He had a few of those and I remember us laughing for not realizing this earlier.
The original town has long sense burned down but the cemetery in what passes for the next town over still remains, as does the old clapboard church. The last time I saw its insides someone had painted it mint green, its statues whitewashed and unadorned. I always thought that it was an odd color to paint the inside of a church.
The newest section of this tiny cemetery is closest to the church but as you step to the west, its age starts to show. The flat mundane plaques of the modern stones where my father now sleeps are the first to stumble across. Next, stand the small monuments where my grandparents lay along with my uncle who drowned in World War II trying to save three others. At the far west side of the cemetery, no markers remain for the old wooden crosses have long sense rotted away. Huge trees stand at the far corners, the only markers of its end. There are no names to read, there are no epitaphs to tell who the person was: son, daughter, mother, father or child. Time still wears away the writing on the stones that remain.
In time I shall also be put to rest here, perhaps the only member of my family to have this done seeing that the rest have scattered to the four winds. It’s peaceful here where the wind blows through the tall grasses. The sun shines warmly in the summer and the forest slowly take back the fields. It’s where the winter brings a thick blanket of snow that bars any passage and If I pass during the winter, I know it will be the spring that will see me here.