January 06, 2006
holes in the ground
I took my yankee house guest to Savannah Beach today. Gray clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped while we drove out there. By the time we arrived, the wind was gusting and the idea of walking the beach didn't strike my fancy. I believe that the yankee was willing to go swimming--- due to the brain-retardation effects of ice, snow and frozen tundra where she lives--- but I vetoed that idea.
We ate lunch instead.
I ordered a dozen raw oysters on the half-shell for an appetizer. She tried ONE oyster. She popped it into her mouth, made a hideous face, rolled her blue eyes in horror, gagged mightily and spit the oyster back onto its shell. (I don't think she liked it.) I ate the other eleven. I thought they were pretty good, even with sweet tea instead of beer to wash them down.
After lunch, I gave her a scenic tour of Tybee Island and then drove to bonaventure cemetary so she could see the ancient live oak trees streaming with Spanish moss and the impressive monuments marking the grave sites. That really is a beautiful place.
When we left there, she needed to use the bathroom, so I turned down the road that leads to Forest Lawn, another cemetary right next to Bonaventure. I knew that the front office there had a bathroom. I knew because Forest Lawn is where Mama and Daddy and Papaw are buried.
I've never gone back to visit their graves since their funerals. That's just not something I do. But I did it today. With a chill wind blowing off the marsh, I stood under a slate-gray sky and looked down at the markers in the ground. Clarence Abner. Robert Smith. Elva Smith. My family.
Livey took a picture of the markers and asked if I wanted my picture taken with them. I said no. The plastic flowers had blown out of the vase on Mama's grave. Livey found them on the ground nearby and replaced them. That was a nice gesture, but it was only a gesture. All flowers blow away eventually.
The people I knew and loved aren't there in the cemetary. Those are just three holes dug in the ground and then filled with dirt again, nothing more, and no different from the thousands of other holes dug in the ground and filled with dirt again around them.
I said, "Let's head back to the Crackerbox," and we left. We both were quiet on the ride home.
I don't think I'll go back to that cemetary any time soon.
She probably just needed a bit of tabasco to help scoot those bastards down.
Graves are only memorials and information to others. There is no need to ever go back to one if you carry the memory of those in them in you.
I know what you mean about the cemetary. I told sweetthing to just have them burn me-with all my blubber it should make a god hot fire. Then spread my ashes any place where the water will take them out into the gulf. No sense in having to worry about a grave-the spirit , if there is one, ain't there anyway.
I am glad that your yankee guest is having a good time. The woman is stone nuts but I love her to pieces anyway.
it's tough for me to visit graves. I don't need to be reminded of pain, and you're right. You carry those people with you in your heart. They're not in the ground.
I like grave yards, especially old ones. Peaceful places really, that serve as a beautiful reminder of our temporal existence.
I don't like bringing flowers either though. Flowers are for dinner parties, a temporary amusement for the senses, not for the dead who are beyond the need of such distractions.
I like the Jewish custom of bringing a small stone and leaving at the gravesite. You leave behind something beautiful of the earth that doesn't die and a symbol of your rememberance that is likely to outlast you.
If you ever go again, you might try picking up something that attracts you on the beach and leaving it with your family. I'd bet it would make for a more positive experience.
I too just want to become ashes to be thrown in the wind.
I DO appriciate walking through old cemetaries though. At Mt. Olive where my family is buried is so pretty. I love walking around looking at all the different head stones.
Oysters are just plain NASTY.
Beautifully written post, Rob.
My mother - she's been gone now for almost 18 years - used to say the same thing about her daddy's grave. She never visited it because he wasn't there. His body, maybe, but whatever made him him had flown away, to be kept alive in the memories of his family and friends.
How interesting to see people discuss death and oysters. I much prefer not visiting graves, as I believe there is nothing to benefit from it. It's difficult to associate happiness with death but I like reading accounts of well-known people and what they experienced at the time of their deaths. Robert Louis Stevenson said.."If this is death, it is easier than life." Thomas Edison said.."It is very beautiful over there." Tennyson said..."Death is the bright side of life." I have no reason to doubt those accounts. As far as oysters go, I'm from Memphis. I once had BBQ oysters at a restaurant there called Justine's. They were delicious because I couldn't taste anything but the BBQ sauce. Just can't go wrong with Memphis pit BBQ.
I only visit gravesites of people I never knew - just to realize they existed at one time as truely as I do, I suppose. One broke down grave yard I came upon contained only about 7 graves. Three held a father and his two children, 12 and 13 y.o., all dying on the same day in about 1910 near the banks of the Snake River. This one still sticks out, probably since the children were the age of two of mine at the time and I couldn't tell what they all died from.
Around here it's amazing how many babies and other children died among the total. Tales are told of very isolated pioneer families losing up to 5 children within 2 days. Imagine watching that, then going on with life?