Tragedies always create material for thought, and the recent untimely death of my youngest son inspired me to write this story.
I remember the first night that we moved into the house at Main Station. At bedtime my Mama opened the door at the far end of the house and we climbed up the steep narrow wooden stairs to a finished off attic area.
It consisted of two rooms where the ceiling was high enough in the center for an adult to walk and it sloped down at an angle with tongue and groove boards about four feet to the wall which was maybe four feet in height. As I recall, the rooms were painted peach, but it was dark up there.
Mama carried a kerosene lamp for light, and the shadows flickered across the ceiling as we moved into the far room. She tucked my sister and myself into bed and pulled the homemade hand-tied comforts and wool blankets over us on that cold March night. She handed us a hot water bottle to keep our feet warm under the covers and reminded us to snuggle.
I know that I was scared to sleep upstairs in a strange house, but the scariest thought of all was knowing that somewhere close by, just a stones throw away, was a little white church surrounded by tombstones. A cemetery that had graves filled with dead bodies meant lots of ghosts walking around in clanging chains to my seven-year old mind's eye.
I mentioned my fears to Mama, but she just casually blew it off by saying something like, "that cemetery is at least a quarter mile away-- no ghosts can come through these solid walls, and there are no windows on the west side of this house." So I pulled the covers up over my head and eventually went to sleep.
A lot of nights I thought about the graveyard being so close by, but the west room had only one window in the south wall, and the east room had one window in the east. That was the room where us girls slept, so it was impossible to even see the cemetery from our second floor bedroom though it's presence was always somewhat in my mind.
My parents went into town to church every Sunday morning. However, most of my school-mates attended that little country church close to our house, so I often went to Sunday School and religious revivals with them quite regularly--but never ventured out into the cemetery, even in broad daylight. Tombstones meant dead bodies were buried there in that ground. I'd rather not even think about walking on top of someone.
Neither did I ever ride my bicycle on the gravel road passing in front of our house westward in the direction of the church and cemetery because I definitely wasn't willing to chance seeing a ghost if thinking about it caused chills to run up my back and gave me the shivers.
Then in 1991, my Mama was laid to rest in that graveyard, and in 1996 my Daddy joined her. In 1999, my youngest son was buried next to them.
Actually, I'd forgotten about the cemetery for many years until Mama died that cold January morning. My sister and I walked from our family home on the gravel road west toward the little white church and cemetery. The barren ground was covered with a blanket of frozen white snow, and the wind blew like there was nothing except a barbed wire fence between the north pole and us. We shivered and pulled our heavy winter coats tighter around our bodies as we found the plot where Mama would be buried.
It takes a long time to overcome childhood fears, and I'm not sure when I finally did. That old family house that I lived in as a child at Main Station is gone. The little church in the cemetery has been moved to a site in town and preserved as a historic building. But the graveyard remains.
I have discovered that cemeteries are actually quite peaceful and serene places. It is always quiet as I walk among the tombstones.
I am not fearful of death or ghosts
now. In fact, if I could communicate with a few family ghosts I might welcome
the opportunity, but that just hasn't happened.
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