Monday I rode down to my great Aunt’s house accompanied by my little guy. I went to meet with her neighbor who is going to do the painting and some of the repairs so we can find a great new family to live there.
The forty-five minute trip there was uneventful. When we got there, I noticed that the statue of a woman pouring water or holding (?) some kind of bird was missing. It had been in the little flower bed at the side of the carport. I know this because I’d always check to see that she was there and then wonder, Does Mama intend to sell her with the house? Why didn’t Mama do something else with her? Is there a story behind this that makes her not want the statue?
When Mr. J came over to help us get in the house and choose paint colors, I asked him about the statue. I wasn’t as worried about her being gone as I was that someone had been in the yard and maybe up to no good. A sweet older gentleman with impeccable manners and a great smile, he nodded and said, “Yep, I took her.” It seems that someone had walked past the house twice and had really been looking closely around the yard. Mr. J and his wife became concerned that somebody might take her, and that I wouldn’t get to have her. “It’s only right you have her,” he said.
Turns out Mr. J loaded her up and drove her out to the cemetery. His original plan was to put her at my Great Aunt’s grave, out at the town cemetery. But when he got out there he couldn’t find her. Rather than hauling her back and trying to find a safe place to keep her at his house, he left the statue at his daughter’s grave until he could find out what I wanted to do with her.
As we walked through the house trying to find just the right shade of gray to paint in two different rooms, I asked him if he would show me sometime how to get out to the cemetery from the house. It had been three years since I’d been out there. And I assured him I was more than happy for the statue to be out at his daughter’s grave. I thought that was just fine and the right thing to do.
But he was having none of that. After we chose a color, talked about what draperies to take down, and made plans for all that needed to happen, he said, “I’d like to take you out there now if you have a few minutes. You need to have that statue. Or at the very least we need to move it to Miss E’s grave.”
Well, I had the time, and I had going out to the cemetery to check on things on my “should” list, so we loaded up in my van and headed over. It was less than ten minutes away. Pretty direct route. When we got out there, Mr. J said, “Well, now, this over here is where I thought she was, but I’ll be dog if I couldn’t find her anywhere.” I agreed that I remembered the same general area that he did. But it has been over three years since we’d said our goodbyes out there, so I couldn’t be sure. And was the main marker in her married name, or had she and my Uncle been buried with her parents? Mr. J had only been looking for the married name before, so we drove slowly up and down the paths on that side of the cemetery, craning our necks to read every marker we could. Finally, I put the car in park, and we got out to search on foot.
I told my little guy, who by this time was playing games on the Kindle in the very back, “Stay buckled up. I’ll be right back. I’m going to see if I can do any better walking around.”
I love cemeteries. I don’t know if I was ever afraid of them. My first job was at the library in our town which was across the little road from our town cemetery. On cold winter afternoons, when dark would creep in and we had no patrons, I would sometimes go over to the window and imagine the stories that were tucked away in that small bit of ground. I love wandering around the old country cemetery where both of my parents are buried now. Many of the markers read like our family tree.
So in the warm sunshine, walking around the small town cemetery on Monday, looking for my Great Aunt, I was at peace. I thought about our Princess, who brought Mama great comfort at the funeral three years ago. She leaned over to Mama as the car pulled in the main entrance and said in a voice filled with awe, “Oh, it’s beautiful here. Look at all the flowers. I love this place.”
I thought and I remembered and I walked and I looked. And I saw Mr. J over across the way, also searching.
I finished my circle, arriving back at the van. I decided to drive over and pick up Mr. J. I got in, buckled, and took the brake off. My little guy who never looked up from his game said, “You find her?”
I laughed to myself and shook my head. His matter of factness in a situation like this just cracked me up. “No, buddy, not yet.”
Neither had Mr. J. He too shook his head. “I know she was over thisaway. I just can’t imagine.”
He directed me over to his daughter’s grave, and there was the statue. I assured him that she looked just right where she was, but he flat refused. He insisted on loading her up in the van. (Thank goodness we had a seat down already!) Mr. J said he’d bring his wife back out later this week, and he bet she could find my Great Aunt. Well, maybe so. I like to think that she would be tickled that she’s able to be so elusive.
I took the lady statue over to Blackberry Flats Tuesday afternoon. Whether Mama wanted her or not, that’s where she’s staying put now. She’s too heavy to be moved again. At least by me.
My children’s acceptance of taking care of business for folks we love who are gone is precious to me. I’m sorry for the reason, but since it is what it is, I am thankful for it. Part of it may have come from the fact they just weren’t given a choice. We planted a tree at the cemetery on Daddy’s birthday last year, and the young’uns and I spent all last summer riding out there to water it at least once if not twice a week. I guess for them, death has become a very significant part of life.
Which might account for last week’s conversation between my two littles. We were over at Mama’s. I was at the desk taking care of some business when I heard my little guy call out suddenly and with great concern, “Oh NO! Mama!”
I turned around to see the two of them at the kitchen counter. “What is it?”
“Mama, Maemae forgot her glasses!” He held them up. “Oh no!”
I smiled to myself, and said, “It’s okay, Buddy.”
“Do you think we need to go out there and bury them?” he asked.
Before I could answer, his sister answered in an impatient “well duh” tone. “Uhhhh, Buddy, she doesn’t need them anymore…..she’s in Hea-ven.” The emphasis on Heaven left no doubt to anyone listening that Maemae was doing a-okay in the eyesight department.
Which is a nice thought.
So having found the lady statue and the littles having found Maemae’s glasses, now we just have to find my Great Aunt. I need to make sure things are taken care of out there like she and Mama would have wanted, like my Great Aunt always did for her parents’ graves. If Mr. J and his wife can’t find her, I’m thinking we are going to have a different kind of treasure hunt, my crew and me. How weird and fun all rolled into one would that be? Oh my.
The lady statue at her new home. Mama’s neighbor asked me if we were going to keep her there. If am the one who has to move her, then yes, she is there to stay.