Monday, August 04, 2008

Camping Trip: Part 3 The Cemetery

The camping area that we went to was right next to a cemetery. I have always annoyed my family with my interest in cemeteries. My mom would say to me, "We are in a different city! You don't know anyone!" It didn't matter that I knew no one-- behind each tombstone was a story and I liked looking at them, noticing if flowers were still put in vases and what they showed of the person buried or their survivors, be it pictures, trinkets left behind or wedding rings carved on the tombstone. I'd take fresh flowers in if I could and put them on tombstones with vases embedded in them.

On Saturday night I took several of the children to the one that our campsite was near. Cloud, Dmitri, Calamity Jane and Mudd came with me. The kids acted scared at first, little victims of Scooby-Doo shows and scary ghost stories. We just walked and Cloud wanted to sing, so we sang some pretty hymns that I've sung to them since they were babies and O Danny Boy which I have been singing since my music class last semester. As we walked, I noticed a very elderly lady sitting at a grave and I shushed the kids but she invited us to come over. She told us about her long marriage and her husband who also loved to sing even though he sang out of key. (Perhaps like us!) She asked us to sing for him so we stood behind her and just sang. We sang three songs, I'll Fly Away, Down to the River to Pray, and O Danny Boy. She was crying as were we. Her son who was with her but standing a ways off came over and lead us in Danny Boy-- my voice started to crack and I had a rough time going on and we kind of pulled each other through with the kids having the same problem. The first two songs in what we sang for her husband are from the movie, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" We love that sound track.

I wonder if my music teacher thought that I'd be croaking out music with my kids in this manner. . . it was very moving. I think the greatest performances are the ones that few see. I may not produce great musicians, and I don't have the money or the time to invest in lessons, but on Saturday night I felt like we did something very, very special.

As the kids and I walked through the cemetery, Cloud and Dmitri were doing the math and figuring out ages. Old people over the age of 20 die and that's normal, but they crossed themselves for the babies and young children. The grass had just been mowed and they were kneeling down on the flush tombstones and wiping it away.

Later Dmitri thanked me for taking him. I asked why and he explained that there is a story behind each stone. . . that made me happy that he thought so much about them.

On Sunday Dmitri wanted to go up to the playground with a new friend. Darrin reminded him of the rules and he said, "Do you know why you don't talk to strangers?" Dmitri said, "Because they will ask you to sing and you will feel sad for them."

PS: I almost posted a picture of a little boy's tombstone but then wondered if it would upset his parents. Anyway, it moved the kids a great deal.

2 comments:

steve said...

Kathleen and I visited cemeteries in our courtship and marriage. A few years ago I found (I think) Kenneth Rexroth's mother's unmarked grave in Elkhart. We kissed under the Black Angel in Iowa City--check the link:
http://www.prairieghosts.com/oakland.html

We joked about having Gregory Corso's poem "Marriage" read at our wedding. Shakespeare won out. But Corso mentions cemeteries. Along with "Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust-"

Sometime I'll have to do a post on the Freethinker's Mounument in the Buchanan, MI cemetery.

Ropi said...

I really like Scooby Doo however I rarely watch it nowadays. I am not sure it is the main reason of their fears.