Carolyn’s Rant, May 2018
Last week I had the occasion to visit my hometown in far northwestern Oklahoma, not just my birthplace but the birthplace of my parents and the area where both of their parents also lived, worked, died and are buried. Both sets of grandparents and also great grandparents were farmers, homesteaders, schoolteachers, and I am so proud of them.
I always make time to go by and say hello to the final resting place of these ancestors and other relatives. There is still something special, somewhat spiritual and contemplative, about standing at the gravesites of those who touched our lives, even those who ended their journeys before mine began. As a genealogist, I visit lots of other gravesites to look for family names all over the country and a few places in Europe, but this one is my favorite.
Passing by other tombstones I see additional names that populate my family tree and other names I can recall who were important to our family in their time.
That graveyard is halfway between town and the farm where I grew up. Growing up we visited the graves regularly, planted flowers, and took garden tools to rake and clean the family plot, edged with a concrete curb.
On my earliest visits, I remember only seeing mounds over the great grandparents. Now the family plot is filled with three double tombstones. Two graves for my parents, two for grandparents, and two bachelor uncles. After the grands were the Uncles, whom I adored and who had spoiled me rotten. We had to say goodbye first to Dad and then a year later, to Mom when I was still a young wife and mother.
I remember well the pain I felt with each burial. Although many years have passed, I have never been able to fill the hole in my heart.
In that small town people still take Memorial day seriously so flowers marked the stones.
One of the best ways to honor your ancestors is to visit their graves. Standing amid the headstones, you might often get a sense of the time in which they lived, and the legacy they have left for you.
Sure, you can go home again—although it may not be tne way you remember.