“So what did you do last weekend?” my daughter asked. I know she was just being polite; she wasn’t really interested in anything her boring old Mom might have been doing.
“Rufus and I went over to Indiana,” I began, but was interrupted by the sound of Beth’s eyes rolling, loud and clear even over the phone.
“Andy says you can’t be doin’ that,” Beth reminded me.
I snorted. “I am well aware of what our governor has said,” I assured her, “and trust me, I wouldn’t disappoint Andy for the world. Rufus and I never got closer than six feet to another person. Literally. We spent the day wandering around old cemeteries.”
Now I could hear Beth shudder. “You are so weird,” she said, and that was pretty much the end of that conversation.
Which is too bad, because I would like to have told her all about it. About how I have had this particular cemetery on my list for quite some time now, with a vague notion that I would go there “someday” to see if I could find the graves of my 4X-great grandparents. Well, there has never been a better “someday” than the days we have right now, so on a whim, I took the time to look up the location of this cemetery and was surprised to discover it is only about 50 miles from here, near a town so small it doesn’t show up on most maps, which is why I’d had no idea how near or far away it really was.
So I invited my dog Roof to “hop in” and off we went, my little truck sailing down the highways that I imagined my ancestors had once traveled by horseback and in wagons. I wondered why they had moved from eastern Daviess County to Indiana in the first place, but I suppose that is one of the mysteries that will forever be unsolved.
In the meantime, it was a beautiful day and a pleasant drive. I looked at the GPS options and decided to take one route going over and another coming back, figuring that between the two of them, I would see the same scenery they had seen. I can only hope they enjoyed the view as much as I did.
There were rolling hills and beautiful fields … cool, dark woods … little farmhouses and big barns. Many of the fields were filled with brilliant yellow blossoms. I wondered if these were goldenrod or maybe soybeans. I wasted a few minutes feeling dumb, hoping I wasn’t embarrassing the spirits of my ancestors, who surely would have known. But I am smart in other ways so I shook off that momentary despondency, and rolled on, along, around and through the hills and curves of the road.
Rufus and I saw lots of horses and shaggy ponies. We saw cows and goats. We sat a big fat tom turkey — the kind you see on Thanksgiving decorations — and I stopped in the middle of the road just to look at him more closely. I’ve seen the skinny wild turkeys before, but this was the first time I’d ever seen a great big turkey like this. I was much more interested in him than he was in me.
We came over a rise in the road and there in front of us were three deer, trotting along like a pack of joggers. I could have passed them but didn’t; bitter experience has taught me what happens when a deer doesn’t stay in its lane. So I drove along at deer speed for a surprising amount of time, the deer occasionally glancing back at me but apparently unalarmed by my presence. They finally hopped into the brush along the side of the road, bounced over a fence, and vanished into the shadows of the trees.
Rufus and I exchanged glances. We were both pretty impressed.
The cemetery turned out to be easy to find. In a way, I was sorry it had taken me so long to go looking for it, but in another way, I was glad I had saved this adventure for just such a day as this.
This cemetery is enclosed by a neat wrought-iron fence, with a sign near the gate saying it is maintained by donations. I took a picture of the address so I could send a check later. Whoever was taking care of this pretty, neatly mowed cemetery deserved to be rewarded.
Many of the stones here are old, so old the engraving has worn away to the point of illegibility. I was looking for graves that are almost 150 years old, so wondered how I would ever find them.
Well, here’s how:
Someone — bless them! — has attached plastic markers to the base of these old, old gravestones, engraved clearly with names and years of birth and death. The amount of my planned donation grew exponentially.
Because thanks to these little plastic placards, I found the graves I was looking for. I was pleased that they are in such a lovely location, overlooking a pretty view in all directions. His stone had been broken and repaired at some point in the past, but they are both still there, side by side.
And now I was there too.
I sat on the ground in front of them. The grass was soft and warm. I said a few words. Then I was quiet for a long time before finally standing to leave. Impulsively, I leaned over and kissed the tops of their stones, gently brushing the rough surfaces with my lips as perhaps others long before me had also done, years and years ago.
I drove home in silence, but it was a happy, peaceful silence.
I had gone out looking for something on this beautiful day … and had found so much more.