Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cemetery visit

"I get this place when I come back!" 

Mom and Dad's plot at Evergreen Cemetery

CROSBY – Mosquitoes sure took advantage of the June rains. This wet, low, flatland of black gumbo is ripe with ‘em. And, they’re big. The one I just swatted on my leg was as big as a chicken wing. Right now, one is stabbing me in the square of my back, and I can’t reach it. Not even with this garden hoe.

Kay told me to be sure to bring the can of Off with me, but that was an hour before I left. I’m supposed to remember “Off” for hour? If she’d told me bring a bag of Cheetos and a donut with me, I could’ve retained that thought for a couple of days.

By the way, I’m standing here in the Evergreen Cemetery near Crosby, because of an idea I had for the family. Our family gatherings have slacked off considerably since Mom passed away in ‘06.  We used to get together about every other weekend for one of Mom’s meals, or to eat out, or for a party or talent show or fireworks. Now, we’re lucky if we get together once every other month.

We could meet more often, but why would we? Some of us live a distance from one another. Besides, when we make the trip, who is going to cook for us? I’m not preparing a meal for that mob more than, maybe, twice a year. Mom must’ve been nuts… in a good way.

Anyway, I came up with and idea that each month one of us would make it a point to come to Crosby to visit Mom and Dad’s grave-site. We would check on things to make sure the weeds and the ants haven’t taken over. An unlikely occurrence since the cemetery has always been well maintained. No, the real reason for the monthly visit will be to give us each a moment to remember family.

June is the first month of the cemetery plan, and I’m the one who signed up for it. Standing here by the headstone, I’ve been thinking about what Jill wrote in the “My thoughts” section of her website. ( She recalled some of the rules of the house when we were kids.

Back then we didn’t have enough places in the living room for everyone to sit comfortably. It was either the couch, one of two chairs or the bare floor. If we had to get up and change channels on the TV, or leave the room for anything, the only way to save your seat was to yell, “Get this place when I come back!” By saying that, no one would steal your place. I can’t believe it worked either. You do realize that Dad didn’t have to say it? Mom said it, but just to play along.

Jill also wrote about punishments for stuff like slamming the screen door. Can you imagine a kid running out of the house and letting the screen door slam behind him; then automatically return for Mom to render punishment? Apparently, Mom made an example of the first one to ever slam a door. Wasn’t me. The law was in force before my time.

Like most of us, I didn’t treasure those moments when I was a kid. When you’re young, nothing makes sense to you, so you just go with the flow. It takes aging to make you give value to childhood stuff.

Oh, that brings me to one other special thing we’re to do at the grave-site. We’re each to bring a token that represents something of our childhood. Something small that won’t blow away and has no real value other than sentimental.

Donkey or calf? You tell me. 
If you’ll look in front of the gravestone, you’ll see a small ceramic donkey wedged between dirt and stone. Dad gave Dennis and me a dollar once to buy Mom something for Mothers Day. Back then a dollar could get a mom something really good.

Well, Dennis and I went to Ray’s Five and Dime and spent 78 cents on two small ceramic donkeys. They looked pretty alike, but we didn’t want to get her just one donkey. Who wants one donkey? Anyway, Mom loved those donkeys. She refused to take ‘em to church to show everyone, but she loved ‘em all right.

Over the years, one of the statues got broken during a chase through the house. It took Mom a little over a year to notice that the donkey was gone. She really broke down, too. No one knew what happened to it.

Flash forward several decades, and we’re sorting through Mom’s old stuff.  When I came across that ceramic donkey, I held it up and called “dibs.” Even today, you can’t question a “Dibs.” Up until now, the donkey has been on my shelf of memories in the study. I’ll tell everybody the story behind the donkey, so it will mean something when their turn comes to visit the cemetery. Dennis will say that he had nothing to do with the breakage of the other donkey. Isn’t it weird how siblings who witness the very same incident, will recall it differently?

Well, I think it’s time to have a quick prayer, and then load up and drive by Mom and Dad’s old place just a mile down the road. Dad bought the two-acre tract a couple of years before he died. It looks a lot different now. And, why wouldn’t it? The current owners are making memories of their own. It’s a nice place for good memories… and for big mosquitoes after a heavy rain in June.  – Next time.
 Used to be carved wooden sign out front that read
"Hayter's Green Acres" -- A lot of parties were had
in that double garage.