I recently moved up here to North West Arkansas to be closer to my grandchildren.. I had so much that I wanted to teach them but, who would have ever imagine that what they had to teach me would be much more important.
It is fair to say that I love cemeteries and I love just walking around and reading all of the different monuments.. A cemetery is so much more than just a place to place our dead. Whenever I tell people that I am going to a cemetery just to walk around and enjoy myself they all look at me like I have two heads.. “Gross, that place is so creepy and morbid”! And whenever I tell them that I am taking my small grandchildren; they freak!? My grandchildren are ages seven, four and two and a half. I am used to that reaction! Well, I tell them, in a cemetery you can do so many wonderful things and you have the leisure time to explain and talk about everything! First of all, I can teach them to respect the graves and those who are buried there. And why we still respect those who have died. And it is a great storytelling time! It is a great spelling lesson, I have them find as many monuments that start with a capitol B or D or any other letter...or find a monument with the oldest numbers, or find a monument that has a tree trunk as the monument or a rose on it. We can do math. Math is so much more interesting when we can put something with it and make it real. How old were they when they died? How long were they married? Geography: like where they were from and where they lived and where they died. I have some huge books that have many of the cemetery symbols in it so we can learn them together...Every monument has a story and I want to know what it is! And I love hearing their ideas, too! I can have them find the tallest trees in the cemetery and we discuss what kind of tree it is and the shape of their leaves and we can learn what kind of flowers that are there….all of that and we have a history lesson, too!..We can talk about wars and good times and who was President at the time they were born and where they died. We can talk about causes of death so there we have a health lesson. They have fun and I will be able to teach them so very much...I can also teach them natural history...like how much has this tree grown. Look at this rock or look at this leaf and the flowers and we learn what every flower looks like and feels like and smells like! Or how does lightening affect things you see...There is always an old tree where lightening has struck. We can study bugs, the possibilities are endless. And, priceless! I know it sounds like a lot for little children …don’t get me wrong…I was just thinking out loud. This will take place over a long period of time... God willing! I would never put that much on such a small child. When they are old enough to ask they are old enough to get a straight answer! I can even teach them how to grow plants, grow their understanding on how things work and I can also teach them how to grow up. The possibilities are still endless! It is our family time... I can tell them stories about when their mother was a little girl and when I was a little girl and when my mother was a little girl...I can tell them about how their ancestors fought in the wars and how some of them immigrated to this country to have a better life. Where they came from and how they came... And how some of them were here to meet the new settlers when they came to the “new World”!
We will find graves of important people and the common man and we can also find the graves of paupers and the nameless.
But, my grandbabies are also teaching me so much! As many of you already know my childhood was not the story book kind. They have taught me to open up my heart and to let people in. They have taught me to take time to really smell the roses and jonquils and look at the world through their eyes. It is amazing to watch my two year old namesake, Ella Ruth, discover something new and my four year old, Ike, frolic through the cemetery without a care in the world and then there is my seven year ol, Jack , he is wise beyond his years. My daughter, Allison has even really gotten into all of “this cemetery stuff” and we are beginning to really understand each other and become friends. Who would ever have believed that?My family has always used funerals and cemeteries to continue their wars and to divide the family and to make their points no matter who they hurt. We put the Fun in FUNerals. It is my turn now, I have broken the cycle of dysfunction and hatred and I can have my family just the way I had always wish mine had been. Now I have my own family and I can leave the past behind me and really look forward to the future... And to think that we can find all of this in a cemetery!