Kids 3

Kids Are Listening

Never doubt that kids are listening to what adults are saying. They may appear to be in their own little worlds, but they hear us. An example of this (based upon contemporaneous notes) goes way back to 1993 when I was visiting the cemetery at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church with my daughter and toddler granddaughter, Katie. 

As my grandmother had done before, https://crookedcreek.live/2019/05/14/kids-2/  I walked from grave to grave telling my daughter of the lives and deaths of those buried there. There were the graves of two generations of grandparents, many aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as my parents and a young brother. Katie played nearby running around and singing. 

At one point she interrupted my dissertation and was told by her Mom to wait her turn.  A few moments later we asked Katie what she had wanted and this is what transpired: Katie squatted down in front of a random tombstone and began, “See and when my uncle, he came to work and he had a wreck and see he died.” She was listening and learning and at a little over two-years-old, she was replicating my actions and words in this place of sad memories. 

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“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Charles Swindoll

Hollyhock Photo by Pixabay

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Kids 2

Kids and Grandmothers and Flowers

The other flower that I distinctly remember from time spent with Mammy  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/05/12/kids/   was the peony. The peony is a large bush with lush blossoms in shades of red or pink or pure white. They bloom in May and were always ready for Memorial Day, known as “Decoration Day” out in the country many years ago. It is also worth mentioning that peonies were incorrectly pronounced pee-ON-nies as opposed to PEE-on-nies back in the day. 

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I would help Mammy cut all the peonies off the bushes and then we would assemble them in bouquets to take to the cemetery at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. While we walked among the graves of my grandmother’s parents, brothers and friends she would tell me about each one. Often the details included the way they had died as well as the way they lived. We would lay a bouquet of peonies on each grave. My favorite bouquets for Decoration Day were made up of the snow white flowers.

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It never occurred to me that one day I’d walk in that same cemetery with my own granddaughter. See Kids 3 coming up.

“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.” Thomas Tusser

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NOTE: A reader sent this photo to me via email and I wanted to share it with you. It is regarding the last post about hollyhock flower “girls” and the ones in this photo are very similar to the ones I made with my Grandmother. The main difference is that ours wore bonnets. Thank you, Gerri, for the photo that demonstrates what I was trying to convey.

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Photos by Pixabay

Death – to Bury or Not

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To Bury, Cremate, Donate, Plant – Disposal of Human Remains

Another decision that must be made concerns disposal of bodily remains. For many years burial in a family or church cemetery was the norm, however that is changing for both environmental and economic reasons. In 2015 cremation rate in the US was 48.6% and expected to rise each year into the future. Rates vary across the country with over 60% in the West and as low as 25% in southern states.  There are other options, of course which actually increase the cost, such as cryogenics, ashes blasted into space or adding ashes to an artificial reef in an ocean. 

Cemeteries 

Interment in a cemetery has fallen into disfavor due to cost, but also because of what many see as misdirected use of land. While I personally prefer cremation and scattering of ashes (also called cremains) back into nature, I must admit that I have always found cemeteries interesting to visit. In old cemeteries I would go further and say that reading tombstones can be fascinating. I know that I am not alone, because many books have been written on the subject including:  9781586853211_p0_v1_s192x300 “Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography” by Douglas Keister  and  “Gone to the Grave: Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks 1850-1950” by Abby Burnett which was reviewed in The Courier Journal  in November 2015. Some of my favorite epitaphs from this book are these: “Killed by a live wire” (1905), “Revenge is my motto” (1869) and “This can’t be death. I feel too good” (1906).

 

When I was in Russia a couple of years after the fall of the Soviet Union, I toured a large old cemetery that was, according to custom there, divided into sections by profession or status. There were sections for the arts with subsections containing poets, musicians and actors. fullsizeoutput_a21.jpeg There were others for military, government officials, Communist Party members, working class (the proletariat) and even the Mafia.

 

I noticed many tombstones that bore the skull and cross bones symbol and inquired of the interpreter what that meant. Her response? “They’re dead”.     IMG_4036.JPG

The skull and cross bones, while perhaps peculiar to Russia, are part of the monument period of Terror which represented symbols of fear of the afterlife. This was followed by the Romantic fullsizeoutput_a13.jpeg and then Personalization Periods.  The Contemporary period in which we now live, leads to what are often attempts at humor. A word of warning about being too creative however, as what is funny today may be confusing or fall flat when it has become outdated. A couple of examples come to mind: A monument depicting a rotary and corded telephone simply said, “Jesus Called”. I’ve seen photos of others that show a calculator, an expired parking meter and even a brownie recipe. 

One of my favorite tombstones is from Clay County, TN which explains that the deceased was “killed by bushwhackers” in 1862 in neighboring Fentress County. Unfortunately the photos taken and provided for this post by Steve Baugh have been lost due to my error.

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it” Mark Twain. 

 


Note 1/1/18:  Another Option for Disposal    https://crookedcreek.live/2017/11/06/infinity-suit/

One Fear Explained

For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of spiders. More specifically, I am terrified that spiders will crawl down my collar. My reflexive action upon seeing a spider, no matter how small, is to pull in my neck and hunch up my shoulders making my collar as tight as possible.

Lest you think I have entomophobia, (that is what you were thinking, righIMG_3477.jpgt?) allow me to present just a few photos as evidence that I love critters. In addition to the grasshopper above, here is a caterpillar which was recently chomping on my rosebush. I removed it by hand and placed it in my fairy garden where it could eat to its heart’s content. One day a couple of months ago, I stopped while shopping to photograph this cute inchworm on a flower near the entrance of a grocery. I think that she is adorable and I would have brought her home as a pet had she not looked so IMG_3052.jpghappy there. Speaking of taking bugs and worms home, here’s a cicada that I found on the front porch and it is currently in my living room. Okay, I said that I would always be honest with you, dear readers, so, I must admit that he was dead when I found him, but still, he is here in my house. He’s just too handsome to toss outside. I really do nIMG_3358.jpgot fear bugs. Okay, honesty check again, there is one that bug that I loathe as much as spiders. To me, the centipede is simply an elongated spider, but I do realize that it has more than eight legs, so does not qualify.

Many years ago, while reflecting upon my childhood, I recalled a day at Vacation Bible School at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Shelby County, near Anderson County where we lived. The day’s lessons, songs and Bible verses were vague memories, but I suddenly remembered our play period vividly. I suppose it is not unusual for children to remember recess, but this was different, in that we preschoolers were allowed to play in the cemetery that surrounded two sides of that country church. We respectfully ran among tombstones, carefully avoiding stepping on the graves, until a little boy noticed a small round hole on the top of one. He inspected closely and declared that he could hear something inside! Although frightened, we all lined up to take turns listening. When it was finally my turn, I knelt down and put my ear to the hole. He was right, there was a loud roaring sound coming from the hole and before I knew it there were millions of baby spiders on the ground and my cotton dress. They were on my shoulders and arms and, worst of all, they were crawling down inside my collar. With this horrifying memory, finally I knew why I have arachnophobia, a pathological fear or loathing of spiders.

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Mt. Vernon Baptist Church