Yesterday I went back home to Marion, Ohio, to visit Mom at the cemetery and also to check up on something that I did up that way that would have her spinning in her grave had I not had her cremated. So I guess this would have had whirling in a cloud of dust. You get the idea.
Our family plot at the cemetery back home holds about twenty graves - ours is a small family. None of my great grandfather's sisters had children that lived to adulthood, and my grandfather's only sibling died of TB before she could start a family of her own.
The earliest grave in that plot belongs to my grandfather's aunt Lottie who died at 18 months of typhoid fever. Over the years, the small simple marble stone has eroded away to a crumbly placard that toppled over in high winds. The other two children in the plot are our Aunt Eva's children, a son who died at two and his sister who died at nine, again, both from typhoid fever in the late 1800s. Their markers, like Lottie's were worn down, but they also carried their surname of "Brown" and this left people confused. Unless you knew that Uncle William was her second husband, it's like these two children just wandered over from a different section.
And there is just something that speaks to me that says that no children brought into this world should disappear into oblivion, and the dust of history, without there being something left behind to mark that they were here. No child should be forgotten to the ages.
So to fix this, I took $700 of Mom's legacy and bought all three new tombstones, in granite. The wording on each marker is exactly as it was on the old markers, but I added the Cookie family surname to each of Aunt Ev's children's markers so the ignorant would know that they belonged to someone in the plot as well.
My mother would, of course think that this was a terrible waste of money, until someone other than me said that it was a touching and loving thing to do. Mom wasn't one for emotions. Should would have preferred that the money had been invested at the current rate (practically nonexistent), and then she would have sat in a dark room to save even more money. But the sad state of those sad markers bothered me, so I did it.
I also gave the cemetery the authority to destroy the old stones. They were plain markers and none of them had any art work on them. From my genealogy and history work, I know what happens when people move them - it creates confusion ("Is great great great grandmother Clotilda buried here or in Aunt Betty's back yard back by the Quince bush?")
Can you imagine what would happen had I taken them - like they suggested and used them in a landscape setting? Oh, Jeezy Pete! Every nut job in a one mile radius would start talking about Cookie's Cemetery! And I didn't want someone to steal the stones either.
It was a hard decision, but the right one to make.
My other reason for doing this is that Aunt Ev left everything to my grandfather on the condition that he plant flowers on her grave every year. We haven't always followed through on that because the squirrels just dig them up. But I think that tending to these graves has gone long way to right that wrong.