Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cemeteries and Libraries.

I've always said that I could judge a town by how well they took care of their cemeteries and libraries. Reverence for elders and respect for knowledge always seemed like a good jumping off place when I choose where I want to be in this world.

I had happened upon this graveyard outside of downtown Roswell a couple of months ago, and as luck would have it on that day, I didn't have my camera with me. It was one of those places that we'd found quite by accident, taking what we'd deemed the "wrong road," and winding up way off our intended course. But as I had been let loose from the boys today, driving around with no destination in mind (but with a camera ready in the passenger's seat), I decided to drive back up and see if I could find it again.

The day was an overcast gray-black mess, with a cold mist that settles uncomfortably into Southern bones. I recalled the mighty oaks towering over this historic cemetery, where its Presbyterian founders were buried high up on a hill, and I imagined how starkly the branches would contrast with these winter skies. I found the road back pretty easily (I hadn't been driving the first time around) and lifted the camera to get a look at the place through the lens. Stark, raving, Southern Gothic gorgeous. An oak tree, a leaning bench, a little headstone with the name "Little Daisy" that lived to be "8 month and 8 days." I stood pondering over her for a while, reminded of my mother's love for daisies and her last little garden patch in Belgium. That woman planted daisies beside every house the military moved us to, and I imagine them there still, across this country and a few others. I was also reminded in an instant of Fitzgerald's Daisy Buchanen sipping old-fashioned's with Gatsby, life in the West Egg, and that green light looming across the bay that symbolized money to the young man. And in the end, my thoughts arrived back to their beginnings, to this infant girl with a bright, hopeful name beneath my feet that never got to grow up, but whose soul, might be watching me this.very.minute.

I always get a little creeped out walking among the headstones, but mostly I just wonder at the names and lives and dreams of these people. I wonder if they can see me from wherever they are, and do they mind my being there? The whole thing reminded me not only of ghost tours that I've taken in Augusta and Canton, but also of the hilarious passage in Lauretta Hannon's memoir The Cracker Queen when her mother, right before visiting an abandoned, haunted funeral home said to the group: "Before we go in, I have one question: Why exactly are we lookin' for something we dont want to find?"--dramatic pause--No seriously, can someone please tell me why we are hunting ghosts when we hope to God we don't catch any?" That's a wise woman talking. I bet I could apply that logic to more than a few of my life's little shenanigans.

As always,

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2 Things not left unsaid:

femminismo said...

Great contemplations on the graveyards and ghosts. I like the analogy to the woman visiting the haunted funeral home asking why they're looking for something they don't want to find. Wow! How many times have I done that in my life. Now I'm only looking for what I do want to find! "The Cracker Queen" sounds like a good read. And, incidentally, it doesn't look like the lady on the couch is reading much of anything at the moment. Thanks for the great pics and the thoughts on Daisy and your mother's daisies.

Southern Girl said...

Femminismo! It's always wonderful to hear your Northwest voice! To know you're out there listening and looking in is such a comfort to my blogger's soul!:) Thank you for all of your comments--I cherish every single one.