Life and Death Reflection
My Road Goes Ever On
Once Upon A Time, They Were Here
In this Life and Death Reflection, I consider my volunteer work at our local cemetery. When faith and science conflict, love holds on.
Sometimes life just turns pure strange, and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. I received an email this week from someone wanting to know where three bodies were buried.
Now before you jump to unholy conclusions, I happen to be the cemetery secretary for our little town. So the question was perfectly legitimate. Though—it turned out—not so easy to answer.
The woman asking was kind enough to send copies of three obituaries so I knew that the deceased persons in question were, in fact, former residents and buried at our cemetery.
So far so good. Just look the names up in the official cemetery computer file, which was crafted a few years ago, so it only goes back so far and then…well…good luck, buddy. Search the paper files and maps.
I did both and came up with four sites bought in their names. Boy-o-boy, I felt good. Nancy Drew had nothing on me. In a fit of generosity, I decided to go out and take a picture of the tombstone to send the family.
I get to the right place…find the right section and site…and match up all the tombstone names for the area. Except for the ones I am looking for. I find grass. Lots of green grass where the bodies should be. At least, where a particular tombstone should be.
So a few more phone calls, pleas for assistance from previous cemetery secretaries. And as Luck-Would-Have-It, One-of-the-Knowledgeable-Ones just happens to be driving by. Divine Intervention? Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too.
So I meet him and tell him my quandary. He steps out of his truck. Takes a long look. I explain that since there isn’t any tombstone, the family wants to place one on the right site. But, here’s my fix, where are the bodies…exactly?
So he steps back to his truck and takes out Divining Rods. Uh…oh… Then he paces up and down the area, and the rods move as he steps over two of the gravesites, but stay still over the other two. Now, I’m really in a fix. There are supposed to be three bodies. And I don’t know who the two are and where the third is…or what might have happened.
Besides that, I don’t believe in diving rods so the whole thing is ridiculous anyway.
Apparently, my face must’ve shown some level of doubt.
He handed me the rods and told me to try. Bloody heck, I insist that I don’t have the power…but he just waves me on. So I hold the durn things in my hands, letting them rest there, (making sure I’m not moving my hands) because I know perfectly well I’m going to be condemned by both science and religion for this one.
I pace across the grass. Those blamed things moved every time I stepped over a grave and over the two grassy sites where I’m wondering who’s on first. Or in graves numbered 4 & 5, as the case may be.
So there you have it. Ann Frailey’s leap into the deep end of strange. I did let the family know that, as best I can tell, we can place a stone at the head of sites 4 & 5. Yes, I did tell her how I “know” someone is buried there. Or don’t know. As the case may be. Funny, but she never responded back…
I can’t blame her.
I don’t know what to think about the matter. I’m perfectly well aware that scientists are laughing and any serious religious person has stepped a safe distance from the bolt of lightning that ought to be hitting me any time now.
All I do know is that three people are buried in unmarked graves…and someone hasn’t forgotten them entirely.
Next time I’m out there, I’ll probably stop by. Because the more I do this job, the more I appreciate gravesites. Not that I think anyone is there waiting for a chat. I know they have moved on.
But because once upon a time they were here. With us.
And that still matters.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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