Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cemetery Stones

Day 264
Ian, the boy who believes we’ll be arrested for sneaking in candy to the movies, worries jumping the fence into the cemetery might not be my best idea. 

“No one will see us if we hurry,” I say.  “Now, go.”  The other two boys scurry over quickly and continue the hunt. 

I should clarify.  We’re geocaching not robbing graves. Today’s adventure leads us to the Jewish Cemetery in Montgomery.  It’s a lush, leafy oasis I hadn’t realized existed.  Tucked behind Hopewell Cemetery (and separated by a chain link fence), it’s a lovely, tranquil spot to explore.   

The boys take turns (albeit it reluctantly) with my IPhone using the downloaded geocache app.  Like a compass, it helps direct us to the treasure.  One step left.  Two steps right.  We wander with purpose until we find the loot. 

Unlike the Catholic cemetery we left that’s littered with an array of artificial flowers and empty vases, this resting spot is pristine.  Headstones dot the well-manicured lawn.  Instead of flowers, visitors leave piles of neatly stacked stones that serve as quiet markers of respect.     

“Why do people leave stones?” I. asks.

“To remember someone they love.  To honor their memory.  To celebrate that they lived.”

“How come some people don’t have any stones?” I. asks.  He’s my sensitive one.  It’s exactly like him to worry about the hurt feelings of those in the afterlife.  

Lots of reasons, I tell him.  No stones doesn’t mean no one remembers, I assure him.  It only means that a visit isn’t possible.  I think of all the visits I haven’t made to my grandmother’s stone in Kentucky.  I’ve been planning to take a day and make the 90 minute-drive since we moved to Cincinnati.  This month marks seven years since we moved to Montgomery.  I have yet to make the trip. 

“Can I put a stone here?” I. asks, walking towards a headstone clean of pebbles.  “You know, so they have one?”     

“Yes, I think that’s very nice.”  Everyone’s life should be celebrated and honored.   

Not to be left out, A. grabs three stones and plunks them down on a grave he finds.   “See?  I can do it too!”  Call it a gut feeling but I don’t think he’s feeling it like I. is.   

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