Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh, Well

Ok, so I admit it...I am strange, weird, coo coo, odd, crazy and my personal favorite...Eccentric! I am all of the afore mentioned but, I really do feel that at 50 I have earned the right to use the word and to call myself eccentric. To earn that title a person has had to be and be called all of the above names and then some. Today, I learned probably one of the most valuable lessons of cemetery lore...Just because someone is the go to, know everything person in any county does not mean that they like, understand and treasure cemeteries!!!!

I just can’t imagine anyone who calls themselves a “historian” not liking or valuing cemeteries? Mitch and I were out for a drive today and looking forward to a relaxing journey into the history of yet another cemetery...this time in Grant County, Arkansas...We stopped at a charming old country store at the crossroads of “in the middle of nowhere and I’ve never heard of that place” two counties east of our home. The old store was completely original down to the meat counter and plumbing supplies, kinda like in classic TV show The Waltons. I stopped in for a Snickers and Coke, the official food of cemetery hunting! The owner of the store was ringing me up and wondering what “strangers” were doing there? In Arkansas and most of the South the time honored past time is asking “what brings you to this neck of the woods”? I could actually feel all of the window curtains being pulled back a bit so that everyone could peek out and see me…

I asked the store owner and a customer if they knew of any interesting cemeteries and or cemetery stories. The owner picked up the phone and called an old timer who “knew everything” about Grant County and probably most of the surrounding counties and “will talk your ear will be hard to get away”...Promises, promises! The old timer asked if we could come over to his house just down the road. So, off we went. I kinda didn’t have a great feeling...don’t know why...just didn’t... One should always listen to one’s inner voice!!! Nothing scary happened, at least not for us….When we arrived at the house the mans wife was happily wrapping presents so he took us to the living room and seated us…After all of the niceties I then I asked THE QUESTION??..Tell me about the cemeteries in this area? The man then immediately crossed his arms and he just shut up!!

Being a lifelong taphophile, I just never think that some people, many people don’t share my cemetery passion. By the way, a taphophile involves epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths and the deaths of just ordinary people. Nothing morbid or yucky...just history and reading the lives of the people who are buried there through the beautiful monuments that they left us ...Civilizations have spent a millennia or more studying the Great Pyramids of Giza and digging up mummies and hauling them all over the world so that we can gawk at them…. So a little cemetery hunting can’t be all bad, can it? After all, people used to put a lot of thought into the symbols that they put on their monuments to tell their story...I feel that it is my obligation to remember and tell their stories!

Anyway, back to the old timer...the locally famous “know everything about the area and you can’t shut him up" man. He said that he didn’t know anything about anything about any cemeteries in the area...So, could I possibly make this conversation more uncomfortable? As those who know me well can quickly answer…YES, I could and did...What do you think would be the last question I would ask before I decided that it was getting dark and we needed to get back on the road to home??? “Can you tell me about your favorite funeral or cemetery story?” I don’t know who got up to get  some yonder faster, me or the old timer! Of course, I didn’t think it was a bad question...Everyone I have ever talked to had a favorite story to tell…Doesn’t it beg the question?? What is the skeleton in his cemetery? I still can’t figure it out, oh well, you win some, you lose some and some get washed away! So, from now on I am just going to stick to talking to the dearly departed and reading their histories in the symbols that they left us...And if someone just happens by and strikes up a conversation I will cherish their stories more than ever! I will let the stories find me….


  1. I just love ... Ruth Coker ... Burks. A ... woman and ... her ellipses ... :-)

  2. If..I did not...have ..diagnosed dyslexia and dyscalculia ..I would know how...punctuate and would not feel...need to ellipse...I used to be to ashamed to write...Puncutation just looks like a forgen language to if you would like to edit for me I ..would love you even more than I already do!!!!.......