This article is not a long read, or listen (both in the download above). No matter your opinion on roadside memorials, I had never taken a side, the words are meaningfully from a different point of view.
Community Viewpoint: Honor the roadside memorials
As I write this, with about one week left in February, some trees, bushes and daffodils have already begun to bloom around Danville.
— Read on godanriver.com/content/tncms/live/
We have a “cowtown” museum in the city I live. The museum has building g duplicates of the original city as it stood in the late 1890s. You can walk into each store , shop, house, or farm as it stood over 100 years ago. It’s what I would call an interactive museum. I really enjoy Cowtown and they always hold interesting historical events.
Like any museum Cowtown is a living , growing learning experience. I have been to Cowtown many, many times in my years of living in the city I was born and grew up in. I have never noticed the undertaker business until last week. Cowtown has about 50+ buildings and recreations on their grounds and I have never noticed the undertaker before. Below are some pictures I took that shows how death was treated in the years after the Civil War.
I have the pleasure of creating memorial crosses that are unique just like the people who buy them for their loved ones.
Sometimes customers will tell me who they are for, but most of the time I never know, and I never ask. If they wanted to talk about their grief they might consider someone else to talk to than a woman who has a small Etsy shop.
When someone does tell me about the loved one they lost, I consider that to be a great honor that they share with me.
I always loved romantic comedies and still do. From time to time, I like to indulge in a sappy romcom. I really enjoy the movies where the actors talk about growing old together. Awww, what more romantic than you and the love of your life growing old together, being together until the end of time – your time that is.
Although the romcom movies make it seem so warm and fuzzy.
Growing old together is tough and hardly romantic. I would use other words and phrases to describe growing old together like ; comfortable, secret keeper, does chores you hate, children would freak out and stop speaking to both of you, to tired to change anything in life, communal habits, communal timing, doctors appts, helping each other remember things. This is the reality of growing old together.
I’m not trying to make it sound horrible because quite frankly everything I listed is quite nice really. I’ve been growing old together for 36 years and I’m telling you it’s not the growing old together that is the best. It’s growing into each other, and all the life in between, that is the best.
I wish I could write a blog post on “How Not To Get Distracted” but that is NEVER going to happen. As a human I have found that distractions in our lives can be bad…..but they can be good too. A neighbor posted on our neighborhood Facebook page that she wanted to apologize for almost running into someone with her car at the intersection. The neighbor went on to explain that her mother was in the hospital and she was running on empty and not as focused as she should be.
When I read this I immediately understood how she felt as I’m sure many people would understand how she felt.
I can remember when I was raising a family there were many times I was thankful to go to work because it was a distraction for something that was going on at home; an argument with my husband, a problem that I knew I couldn’t solve, or a child that had run me ragged in arguments. Work was actually a good distraction!
Now I have had my fair share of bad distractions; certain Apple apps I’ve downloaded, books I can’t put down, any game, and of course TV programs that I won’t list here. I only consider these bad distractions because they seem so self indulgent and mothers by nature don’t partake in a lot of self indulgent activities, at least not without some guilt involved.
My life has been one ongoing distraction and I am grateful.
If you have lost of loved one whether it be years ago or as recent as this past year then you know how difficult the holidays are. You might even have some well meaning person to remind you of how hard holidays are without a loved one , as if you didn’t understand.
I lost many loved ones on special days or holidays, New Years Eve-brother, Christmastime- brother, stepfather- my wedding anniversary, 4th of July- mother, my birthday- brother. Although this is an unusual amount of loved ones to lose by the age of 40 , it is also an odd number of celebrations to loose loved ones on. I decided I needed to embrace these holidays which is how my business FloralMemorials came about. My husband was a contractor and often had wooden stakes and the idea came to me to paint and decorate them so I could have something to decorate the graves for any holiday or celebration. This need to celebrate has been an amazing experience for me and one that I am most grateful for.
Those deaths have been 20-30 years ago and I have found that those days in between holidays have brought me the most comfort, understanding, clarity, and peace. Every single day a thought drifts through my mind or I drive by a part of town that sparks my memory, but always with a smile and no longer with a tear or lump in my throat. Those days in between are just as important if not more than the few holidays we share. Own those days they can’t be given back to you and they are amazing.
If you aren’t familiar with Elf on a Shelf you might think this picture is a little odd. The idea is that you use the elf doll and tell your children that the elf is watching good boys and girls for Santa. Now the elf moves at night to a different location to further convince your kids he is real. Sometimes this little elf will even play tricks at night while children are asleep. An example would be you find him on the kitchen table with your cereal ready, or maybe he picked out your clothes while you slept. You get the idea.
Now this sounds like great fun BUT most parents start this little game around Thanksgiving and it’s played up and until Christmas. This can be troublesome in many ways. Trying to come up with different ideas as to where to put the elf while the kids are asleep and what trick or new discovery the elf might create. That’s a lot of work! Or heaven forbid the parent is to tired to do the elf relocation one night, then you have to come up with why the elf did not move. The worst or maybe best idea is the elf is partially eaten by the dog, hence the picture.
In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month a ceasefire was declared between Germany and all allied forces fighting against them ( also known as WWI ).
This day was one that impacted not one country or nation but an entire generation of people on earth. Armistice Day as it would be called for many years was declared a national holiday and has been considered as such since 1918. The name was changed to VeteransDay to honor all who serve around the world for their countries. The name change was necessary as the Great War (or WWI as it’s now called) was not the last and only war.
What I find most interesting about this particular federal holiday is that it is on November11th no matter the day of the week. The federal government tried to make this into one of its famous “Monday Holidays” but people refused to acknowledge the holiday on any other date other than the 11th day of the 11th month. President Ford signed a bill changing the day back to the 11th of November.
For generations that will forever have the day 09-11-01 as part of their memories we should be able to understand and recognize the significance of 11-11-1918 and how certain historical events should never be altered.
My own father served in the Army during the Korean War and my little brother was in the Navy during the struggles with Beruit in the early 1980’s. I admire the men and women who serve our country. Maybe my admiration comes from knowing a time when the draft was in force and if your birthday was pulled you served . This drafting of military wasn’t a choice you made but one that was made for you. I admire their sense of honor to our country. These individuals made a choice to serve knowing full well that any number of outcomes good or bad could befall them.
Lest we not forget those who gave everything for man and country
I started my small online business in September of 2014. I was worried, frustrated, and somewhat confused about selling my handmade crosses online. I survived the first year and have enjoyed ever year since. The best part for me is the creative part of business. Unfortunately the other “stuff” (ie; finances, social media, marketing, shopping, ok maybe not shopping since it’s fun too) all come with the job. I have learned so much and have never been as frustrated with myself all at the same time. So much of what I have learned is from customers, other sites, competition, and trial and error.
I try to learn new ways of creating because I want to improve on my product and make the buying experience enjoyable for my customers. Today I took a trip down memory lane and looked over my past catalog. Yes, it took an hour. I have sold over 5000 crosses since my start in late 2014 and have made no two alike. My crosses are 100% one of a kind
So as I’m looking through I notice a few things about my designs. Maybe I have paid too much attention to my competition and haven’t always stayed true to myself. Is better always better? While trying to keep up with volume have I lost my nerve to be more creative? Is was worth the trip down memory lane. I learned something new today, to stop and think, “is this really my best?”
I am trying to get back out and enjoy life like I did before COVID. After a year off from most social interaction I was excited to go and do things again, even simple errands were more attractive now. There’s a change that has happened and you can feel it in the air.
I’m talking about hostility. I have encountered so many people who are so upset about the smallest of things, whether it be road rage, or some slight they think another has given them, to hateful attitudes towards service workers. Now I realize these people have been with us all along, but this is different. This isn’t just a once a year encounter, this is a daily event. Did we stay inside so long that we have completely forgotten how to treat our fellow man? Have we suffered such enormous set backs from COVID that we are just angry all of the time?
I’m not sure what the answer is but it’s definitely different and you can feel it in the air around you.
Six years ago my daughter gave me a gift that transformed my life. I realize that is a bold statement but I genuinely feel that way. The gift was an iPad. Now understand that I learned windows on a desktop with lots of tears and bad words. I could email, look at the internet, and do some graphics but nothing like my iPad. It was easy to use, I never felt like the iPad would blow up if I hit the wrong key, and no tears were involved. No I understand you might think that my daughter helped me learn but no she told me I was on my own after setting up my email and cloud account and showing me where I could find apps to download. I taught myself and opened up an online store. I worked social media and with three different printers over 4 years I could master anything. I do almost EVERYTHING online. The reason I tell you this rather long winded story is this: I’m not young. I cringe when I have someone tell me that they can’t learn computer, they can’t keep up, or they don’t want to. I cringe because I am the same age as the people telling me this and all I hear is fear. I help when they ask a question in regards to “online questions” and I even go so far as to do a lot of things for them online which I don’t really mind at all. I do worry how isolated seniors will feel as technology flies at the speed of sound these days. Each year a senior doesn’t learn the more they will not understand what the generation below them is talking about, the more they won’t understand the world and how to function within it, and the more they will be afraid.
Now I’ve blogged about this once before ( see blog “I’m an old lady too” February 2021). Teaching an old dog new tricks is code for they won’t change their way of doing anything. Now it’s not new tricks that I would like others to learn as stated in my previous blog post, but rather old tricks that I would like to lose. I have so many that it almost seems like a challenge with little possibility of a good outcome. My list includes:
*Stop worrying about how I spend my time. It’s my time and I need to forgive myself for not doing something every minute of everyday.
*It doesn’t have to be perfect. This one is a little hard for me to do as I have always been the fixer and doer of my family.
*Stop thinking about the next five things you need to do. I use to make list of everything that needed to be done and every errand that needed running. I rarely finished the list in one day but I worked myself to death trying to reach the end of the list.
*Stop comparing your life and yourself to others- this one came as I aged – I just cared less about it.
This is the list I care about now……..
Listen more, talk less
Live everyday like it’s my last ( very hard to do grocery shopping, cleaning house, and doing laundry )
Try something new every week ( easy enough, as long as you don’t set the bar too high in what you learn). The learning is the most important part.
I don’t really think any of this has to do with old dogs (age) or new tricks (anything that is different from what you do now). I think I am more self aware of is what is needed to make my life mine.
I’ve always been a talker. I love people and I love being around people. Now don’t get me wrong I like my alone time too, but my teachers didn’t call me jabber jaws when I was in elementary school for nothing. The teachers would write on my report cards ; “she is a great student but needs to stop talking”. I was reading an article the other day which explained that children who are left alone a lot tend to well, run at the mouth , so to say.
I definitely fit in that category. I always did all the talking for my introverted little brother. He liked listening to me and it always made him feel more secure when I did all the talking, or so he told me once. My little brother passed away 24 years ago but I’m still talking.
Now the problem with this is it’s nervous talking . Not necessarily good conversation. I have been practicing meditation to help me silence that inner child who needed to fill the awkward silence. When I was young silence was always scary, nothing good ever came from silent moments. The meditation helps, not a cure, but it helps, and that’s all I have to say – for a change.
I couldn’t help but to write a blog post about April being the National Month of Hope. Hope is a positive, very personal emotion. We humans are all the same species. Other species react to us as humans, not as specific groups. We as a species like to separate ourselves into groups by religion, politics, race, countries, and the list goes on and on. Emotions are described by humans and mostly considered human behaviors. Anger, joy, frustration, sadness, all emotions that are experienced by our species. But the above list of separations makes those emotions specific. One emotion stands out as independent of group emotions, and that is hope. Every human has had, at one time or another, a desire of hope. To hope that something might occur, or not, is an independent thought. I’m not sure we need an entire month dedicated to this emotion, but maybe it’s a reminder that we are all of one species and not as different as we might assume.
I know that my title is not an attention grabber and that’s ok. I want to personally recognize this group of people that have made my life easier. This particular group, until you need them and chances are you will need them one day, are there for people at their saddest and most vulnerable moment. The first encounter I had with a funeral director was when I was 19. My oldest brother died in an accident and the family was gathered at the funeral home trying to make arrangements. My parents couldn’t put aside their hurt and anger long enough to bury my brother so they turned and said “ask Missy what she wants”. I was stunned, I wasn’t a parent. I wasn’t even an adult , really. This poor funeral director pulled me aside and walked me through the decisions with such kindness and understanding I couldn’t have made it through that day , or the funeral to come. I don’t remember his face at all just his ability to understand my humiliation, my pain, and my lack of knowledge. He saved that day from being one that could have left me hardened and pissed off.
I have had too many encounters with other funeral homes and the employees that have helped me and I have had people with the same kindness and concern at each one. We may not like talking about what a service these individuals provide , or maybe we tell ourselves that we wouldn’t want to have one as a friend, but I tell you it would make your life better if you did. In recognition of those who provide this service, I say THANK YOU!
A member of the family had posted to Facebook a power point about Romania. History and Geography are my favorites so I watched the 60 sec. slide. As I watched I learned some interesting facts about the people, the castles, the terrain and so on. Then a slide appeared about the only Merry Cemetery in the world!
What? A Merry cemetery? What is that all about?
Well to the Google search I go….
The Merry Cemetery is a very colorful and vibrant cemetery located behind the Church of Assumption in the small village of Sapanta in Romania. It began in 1935 with one man by the name of Stan Loan Patras. Mr. Patras would carve these beautiful oak crosses and then paint onto the cross something about the life of that person.
Mr. Patras passed away in 1977 ( yes he has a headstone about his life too ) and the job was passed down to another local craftsman named Dumitri Pop. Dumitri has created hundreds of headstones over the 30 years he has held the job and hopes to pass the “torch” to another craftsman to keep the tradition. The wood paintings on each cross may tell the story of their occupation, their personal life , or how they died. Each headstone also has an epipaph or poem about that person below the picture. The families come to Dumitri and ask him to create a cross for their loved one. The families don’t get to choose what goes on the tombstone, that is left up to Dumitri….. NO exceptions. There are 2 things you can be sure of when visiting or having a loved one buried there:
Your loved one will be visited daily by many, many people from all over the world.
The pictures displayed on the headstones make it possible for you to understand no matter what language you speak.
I remember when I was a little girl and how I loved looking forward to a holiday. My younger brother and I celebrated them together in every wish, dream, and moment. It was our time then. We would excite ourselves with the idea of Easter morning chocolate bunnies and spring toys. Christmastime we spent hours thumbing through store catalogs marking the pages of everything we wanted by bending the page or using a permanent black magic marker to circle the desires that year. We would Trick or Treat on Halloween and come home to sort and group our candy in neat little piles before counting them and gorging ourselves. I would always run out of chocolate candy first as I had an enormous sweet tooth and my brother would pretend not to notice that I ate his when mine was gone.
These holidays were my childhood and were some of my best holiday moments. No one realizes that until those moments are long gone. As an adult I was given the gift of having children to celebrate these moments with and I loved every second of every holiday. Even as I celebrated these moments I knew that they would stop some day and my job would warp into the final stage of observer. My participation would be more “watching” than “doing”.
At first the role seemed strange to me but I have learned by watching my children being the “doers” in holiday celebrations just how lucky I really am. I love reliving in my mind how my younger brother and I celebrated together and the only sad part is that he is not here to share our memories together. I watch my children build their own lives and I know how lucky I am to have raised them and had those moments. I still love holidays and the family time that they bring but I have learned that it’s ok to sit them out and let them be celebrated by the here and now. I enjoy watching others live what I have learned. I hope that my children will see someday how wonderful their lives have been as I do now.
I know it may seem odd since my business is cemetery decorations but I like the idea of green burial. It’s more than just the ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in a word-simple. I think it’s important to have one final decision in life and that is how your death or life will be celebrated. Now this is not a simple choice if you have a child that has proceeded you in death, a husband, a sibling, a partner. I had to make choices for my family members without knowing exactly what they wanted. I tried to make decisions that were appropriate, respectful, and loving but those were choices I made for them, and it was a long time before I forgave myself for something I had no control over. My parents, and siblings have been gone for over 25 years and the pain doesn’t flood me as it once did. The deaths just came suddenly but not surprisingly. I lost my mother, younger brother, and father all within 9 months. I had already buried my stepfather and my oldest brother, and my middle brother would follow in just a few years. I was afraid, afraid to talk to them about death even though most of them were inevitable, but it was so much simpler to just put it away in the back of my mind. What I wasn’t prepared for is I would be the only decision maker, the only one left to make those choices.
I started making my crosses over 20 years ago. I lost most of my childhood family and I needed to process my grief. These crosses came to me one night while I was lying in bed. It wasn’t until ten years later that my daughters would convince me that others would also like my crosses. And the rest as they say is history, no it’s my life.
My youngest brother was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1962. My mother would make him a pumpkin pie every year for his birthday. She said it was his favorite but I think it was her way of paying him back for the Thanksgiving she missed in 1962. My brother would celebrate his first birthday with pumpkin pie of course but it was not a happy celebration as that was the day that President Kennedy was shot and died of his injuries.
My brother would die on New Years Eve of 1999, yet another holiday that would not be celebrated for years following his death. I always like to make something special for his grave celebrating his life, his birthday. His favorite color was orange and so it is very easy to decorate his grave for Fall. This year I decided to break from this tradition and decorate his grave with a bright green and yellow wreath I made. The wreath is thick enough and just heavy enough to be held by his vase alone. Very cheerful, he was a very cheerful kid.
Like all of the cemeteries I will be posting, Roll cemetery , once way outside the city limits, is well within the city limits of Haysville, KS. Now Haysville KS is butt up against Wichita KS. You don’t realize you have left one and entered the other. I have blogged before my curiosity comes from my business , content for this blog, and the YouTube channel Sidestep Adventures. Kansas doesn’t have as long of a history as the state of Georgia which is where Sidestep Adventures takes place, but the history can be found in its small country cemeteries. This is Roll Cemetery and the Roll family is buried within. Family cemeteries were very common in the 1800s to early 1900s and Roll Cemetery displays that history well.
Like the others I have posted Roll Cemetery has a beautiful handcrafted entrance and is well cared for. The fence came years later to keep others out and to mark the area which is designated as cemetery.
Roll cemetery is on about an acre of land but runs along the side the dirt road and it’s length is greater than it’s width.
In my last post I wrote about my inspiration for posting pictures and comments about Kansas cemeteries. Not the huge mid century cemeteries and their big Masoleums or the newer cemeteries with flat markers, big statues and biblical names for each section. My inspiration is a YouTube channel called Sidestep Adventures. On this YouTube channel they take you through Georgia and Alabama cemeteries that many don’t realize exist and are so old they aren’t even mapped.
I’m starting in my own county of Sedgwick in the state of Kansas. Prairie cemeteries mark the harsh realities of what life was like in the early to late 1800s. The cemeteries are small and some of them are no longer hidden due to urban sprawl. Marked in stone is the life the prairie provided for the first that settled Kansas.
These pictures are of Eldridge Cemetery near Colwich KS. This is a farming community outside of Wichita KS. Colwich was once miles outside of the city but today is only 7 miles away from Wichita. There is no one named Eldridge buried here. The first grave that I could find belonged to a child named F. Arthur , age 1 year- 9 mos. Little Arthur is laid to rest with his father who shares the same stone maker. Most of the graves are from the late 1800s to the very early 1900s with very few exceptions. The majority of the graves are of infants, children, and young adults, with their parents following in death. There is one small mausoleum building with no identification of its owner. The cemetery is well groomed and some flowers were placed at one grave. The legacy of this Kansas cemetery seems to be the hard life of early farming in Kansas.
I follow a YouTube Chanel called Sidestep Adventures. The host takes you through the past of Alabama and let me tell you it has a lot of past to view. I’m a bit of a history buff and I find his episodes on old cemeteries fascinating. Of course Kansas doesn’t have as many historical cemeteries, slave cemeteries, plantation cemeteries as Georgia and Alabama but we do have a few hidden gems. The difference being that our Kansas cemeteries are not hidden beneath bushes, wisteria, and huge oak trees. Kansas cemeteries are of the plains. The plains of Kansas were very harsh to the settlers of the 1800s, lots of sun, wind, and dust, and not much more. I have no doubt that many of the small farm cemeteries are long gone, plowed over and forgotten. The ones that do remain are quaint and quietly taken care of. The host of SidestepAdventures would tell you the cemeteries that remain almost own themselves. In other words, if a cemetery has been photographed and reported to the county that land can’t be sold or built on, so they just work around them. I will have to check out Kansas law on cemeteries before my next post.
Here is my first attempt at showing small Kansas cemeteries on the prairie.
#1 RUBY Cemetery. Although this cemetery is close to Clearwater KS ( population 2500) and Wichita KS (population 400,000.) You can see by my pictures it is a prairie cemetery of years ago.
Holidays are rough for many people for many reasons. When it comes to specific family “holidays” like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or even the up and rising Grandparents Day the celebration can be awkward or painful for many.
When I was young, divorced parents were few and far between among my classmates ( it was the 1970’s). I dreaded Father’s Day conversation brought up within my circle of friends and the only saving grace was I never had to endure Father’s Day art projects, cards, or dinners as the holiday falls in the summer.
When I married and started a family the celebration of Father’s Day shifted to my husband and I was more than happy to celebrate his fatherhood. My husband came from a fatherless family and it was a relief to him to have a reason to celebrate.
As I grew older others my age grieved for the loss of their Fathers as they passed. I did all my grieving as a child so when my father passed my emotions were void and the funeral planning was somewhat methodical.
I admire the younger generations and their definition of family. Families, fathers included, are not defined by a person’s gender, blood DNA, or even location. Instead families are as they should be ; groups of humans who love and care for each other and choose to share their lives with one another. It’s not that I dislike this holiday but rather I dream of a future were my grandchildren and great -grandchildren live and where families are chosen out of love and not a definition created by others.
I’ve seen this picture online at a couple of different sites but never with a title or location. I find the picture haunting and beautiful. When first seeing it on Pinterest the first thought I had was that looks like a stairway to heaven. Yes , I am a Led Zepplin fan.
What thoughts do you have when you see this picture?
March, April, and May are busy months for me as are the holidays. My customers are loyal and kind. All of my family are buried in small country cemeteries or Catholic cemeteries. I realize that some of the larger corporate cemeteries have strict rules on what you can or can’t place on graves. There are cemeteries that have timelines stating when and how long grave decorations can remain on a grave. Here are some pictures of my husband’s family graves this Memorial holiday.
Now the title may fool you into believing that I just might be writing about something other than cemeteries but I’m not. I’ve been visiting cemeteries for most of my life. It started when I was around 10 my mother would let me come along on Memorial Day as she decorated graves. Her only rules were ; you can’t talk, and you can’t ask a lot of questions. My mother knew me well. I took the job over at 19 when my oldest brother died and have been visiting the resting places of my nuclear family for the last 35 years. I do have a few questions that still wonder from time to time….
Where are all the graves from the west migration in America (1865-1900) . I’m a child of the 70s and so I watched a lot of westerns in my youth and it seems to me that they buried people just about anywhere and marked with a makeshift wood cross.
I’ve learned that there are many unmarked graves of Americans and cemeteries that were sold with property were often destroyed. Many small towns that no longer exist had small town cemeteries that no longer exist. The answer , like most things in life, is not clear. It depends on how far west, how close to a town, and if the town had an undertaker, or a church cemetery. It was the Wild West and many parts of eastern civilized American life took time to reach the bold frontier. Indigenous people have been buried in American soil for thousands of years and they are the history of this nation as are the burial sites they once preserved. I do know one thing, my mother would be frustrated with me if she knew I was still pondering the same questions.
While visiting my youngest child before COVID we went to some favorite spots , one of them being Gooseberry Falls in Duluth MN. The falls are beautiful as are the trees, streams, and foliage. This time when we went to the falls we saw something we had never seen before- Cairns. What are those? Cairns are small piles of rocks. I decided to look up there meaning, if any. The word “cairn” is a pile of rocks placed on top of one another. This is a deep rooted Scottish hillside tradition that signifies respect. That would explain the word for a small pile of rocks pronounced kern which is a Scottish Gaelic word. This tradition of piling rocks some say goes back much further than that. Some archeologists believe cairns were used as landmarks in the prehistoric era. Cairns are also used to mark trails or routes.
Another use is by Buddhist to symbolize wishes for family, respect for a passing loved one. In Hawaii they are called ahu and the Native Americans call these piles of rock wa-wa-an-quas-sick ( place of many good stones ). Cairns can also be memorials. A pile of rocks placed upon a burial site. Actor Dennis Hopper is buried under a cairn in a Native American burial site in Taos, NM. I learn something new every time I travel outside my own little world, and I enjoy seeing and learning new things.
Like every state in the union Kansas has many small Cemeteries. Mount Zion is one such cemetery. This quiet little piece of green earth is along highway 160 and almost appears as a highway rest stop. Some of the earliest buried there are from the 1800’s with the latest burial in 2020. Mount Zion was once referred to as the Kellogg Cemetery. I can only assume that the cemetery sits on land that was once owned by the Kellogg family. There are four Kellogg family members laid to rest there in the late 1800s and early 1900s. When you visit this cemetery of roughly 200 souls on Find A Grave you will notice two things; one the family names are repetitive and very few died of old age. The Hubbard family have 7 children all under the age of 17 buried there, all with different dates and years of death. The Hubbard parents and extended family are not laid to rest there, which makes one wonder if they had too much of the Kansas prairie and left for a better life and less painful memories.
I have changed my mind several times as to what I want done with my body when I am gone. I have at this older age made my decision and it is my final choice. Unfortunately my past has made me think of this more than others might. I have personally planned every family members funeral. I spoke at most of them. I have learned what I don’t want. I walk for an hour each day for exercise and for my dog, he loves the walks. There is a park very close to my house and I have walked through it thousands of times. A friend pointed out the marker one day as we walked together. It has sunken a bit but it sits by a tree , a tree that was planted in honor of his passing. Of course most cities would never give permission to allow such a tree planting or a marker placed but 30 years ago they did. I’m sure others have found it over time and others will find the maker in the future. What a nice place in a park, under a big tree.
I think one of the best things about being born and living your entire life in the same city is nothing really changes, not really. Yes new streets are paved and old ones torn out, buildings go up and are torn down, people move into the city and move out, but your memories in the city never change. I can drive down any street in my city and it will bring back a memory, some sad, some not. Change is hard for all of us to some degree or another. Most of us when we are young we see change but it doesn’t seem to bother us a lot. Now as we age we have a tendency to resent change. I’m sure you have heard others say, “ things were better in our time” or “things aren’t as good as they used to be” These statements are true of course, or maybe you just roll your eyes when you hear someone older than you express that sentiment. The loss of someone you love is heartbreaking and of course this brings change. Change you are never ready for , but still it comes- relentlessly. I have found this to be true , this time right now, this very moment is everyone’s moment. As long as you are alive this is your time.
The weather has been warmer and my walks have been longer. I live in a neighborhood that has parks, sidewalks, and friendly neighbors. I ran into a neighbor that I heard had lost his wife in 2020 , but I had not had the chance to tell him personally how sorry I was. His booming voice called me over and I told him how sorry I was to hear of his wife’s passing. He and his wife would walk in good weather even after hip and knee replacements. His voice started to break as he talked about her. My heart broke as I listened. He explained that the “virus took her”. I finished my walk and began to think about everything he had said. This couple was not young but they took good care of each other. They got their flu shots, pneumonia shots, and went to the doctor annually. I thought even beyond his loss and about the total loss of life to COVID. To date 500,000.00 people have died of COVID in the United States. If you consider for one moment that each life lost affects 10 other people spiritually, emotionally, and financially then that total comes to 5 Million. Five million + souls walking around in 2020 trying to understand what happened. Be kind people, it was a very hard year.
2020 passed so fast and drug on so long. I look back and say to myself, “Where did 2020 go?” My 2020 started out with so much excitement. Two new grandchildren were born just a day apart and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was so see new life come into the world. I spent 5 years burying all of my family so new life brings new possibilities. I felt so content, and then came March 2020. Everyone has their own story for 2020. My year was odd. I was so caught up in the virus and the election year that it took the place of things I would normally do; volunteering, the gym, activities with family. Everyone had to make a new kind of day for themselves. I watched in horror how Americans were dying so quickly and Americans that were so divided in politics, or was it because I just had more time to notice? One thing is for sure my life is good, I’m not wealthy, or a world traveler, or even good looking, but I have a good life. I did learn a couple of things this last year. I was reminded to be more humble and more grateful. It was just one year but a year that no one will forget, no matter their story.