Both of my boys grew up visiting cemeteries with me– a lot. We take walks in them. We take flowers to put on graves that have long been abandoned. We’ve pulled weeds from graves, picked up trash and even propped up a few tombstones. We’ve climbed fences, waded through mud, and even dodged cows. There is something about a cemetery, especially old ones, that strikes to the core of my heart. Maybe it’s the history that lies beneath the stones? Or my love of genealogy that transfers to cemeteries and the wonder of what kind of life that person had, what they saw, and often, how did they get that name? Countless times I’ve seen interesting names, tombstones and histories written on them that intrigued me to the point I researched that person. I’ve found some interesting people lying in those cemeteries, with stories long forgotten! We’ve even met a few living people with interesting stories! Our latest cemetery encounter with the living was this past Veteran’s Day, well, the day after, when we met Paulette and Tony.
Almost every Veteran’s Day I take the boys to local cemeteries to visit graves of those who fought for our country. This year was no different. We go by Major Nathaniel F. Cheairs and Thomas G. Cheairs graves, then to Confederates Row and discuss the War Between the States, the causes, sacrifices, and so on. We continue to walk about and stop at various graves from World War I, World War II, Vietnam, any grave that has a military headstone, or mention of their service. It’s during these walks we discuss God, our country and it’s history, the history of the wars, and even at times our own family history. On our way out, we drove to the back of the cemetery, which we’ve done dozens of times, only this time I “saw” her. This beautiful statue of a woman, which I refer to as Mother Mary (the Virgin Mary,) glowed a gleaming white with a blood red rose around her wrist. I immediately put on the brakes, and the boys and I got out and went to be in her presence. I knew at that moment I had to get The Husband to take a picture of her for me. I took a couple, but let’s face it, he’s better at photography than I am. I brought him back the next day, and below are a couple captures he took for me. That’s when Paulette and Tony walked by.
Paulette and Tony walk the cemetery in the evenings. They clean many of the older stones, repair them, and are very knowledgeable about the history of the cemetery and its inhabitants. We spoke with them for at least an hour. During that time they told us how they cleaned the statue to get her back to her original state, and they keep a rose on her wrist. We also learned Tony’s nickname “Eagle Eye.” Apparently Tony has a knack for spotting cemeteries going down roads! Cemeteries that otherwise go unnoticed to the average passer-by. Their love for cemeteries went beyond Rose Hill! I knew I’d met kindred spirits after that story! Out of all the people I’ve met in cemeteries, they by far were the most genuine people I’ve ever met. I hope to see them again, if not just to thank them for all they do.
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