sure many of you have had a moving experience
in your lifetime. Many of these seem to come when a person has aged,
when ones life finds us celebrating birthdays in our sixth decade,
and beyond. This certainly fits with me, and this recent
daughter, a published author, is doing research
on her next book, which will include some history of our family.
Through her efforts, she was able to find the burial location of my
paternal grandmother, and three of her children, those of my aunt,
and two uncles. These are people whom sadly, I've never known.
grandmother died in 1904, when my father was only three years old.
Dad and I often talked about her, he telling me, he could still
remember her smile, and gentleness. When a person became ill in those
days, it was often a trying time. The slightest cold could lead to
pneumonia, and living in a rural setting made it more difficult to
get medical treatment. My grandmother was in her early thirties when
she passed, and her life on the farm had not been an easy one.
learned that my aunt, her daughter, was only six years old
she died, having a horrible, unimaginable death. Her dress caught
fire when she got too close to the fireplace, and she was tragically,
burned to death. I never knew this, and it brought to mind how Woody
Guthrie's little sister passed in the same way, an extremely painful
death. My two uncles were also quite young when they died, but my
family has no record of their ages, nor how they died.
those days, the late nineteenth century, it was not unusual to bury
loved ones nearby, including of course, on your own land. Such was
the case with my grandmother and her children. It was so moving to
look down on their simple graves, marked with crude headstones, and
think of their lives, as well as their deaths.
current owners of the land were quite helpful, and suggested we might
also be able to find my grandfather’s grave in a nearby church
cemetery, about two miles from the farm. My grandfather, still a
young man at that point, remarried after his first wife's death, and
had three more children, my father's half brothers. Indeed,
found his grave; he passed in 1939, two years before I was born.
Sadly, I never got to meet him.
I was a young boy, I
recall my dad explaining a partially used cough drop, which he had
placed in the drawer where we kept household tools and such. This
“junk drawer cough drop,” was in my grandfather’s
mouth when he died. I never questioned why it was now in that drawer,
but perhaps opening the drawer to get a tool, brought a pleasant
memory of my grandfather, for my father.
our day of
family research ended, and we returned home, I could not get all of
these good folks, my family, out of my mind. As a result, I wrote
this poem with the intent of honoring them. I hope, somehow, they are
aware of my thoughts and feelings. Some of us may have the privilege
of living a long life, or like them, a shortened one; regardless, we
should all be aware, we are only passing through.
soft breeze, a slight chill The
Oak bows low, whispering it's
waving it's leaf-laden branches, a
time with the music of the Kentucky
duty, it's love, lies so near Lies
still, listening for feint recognition Sweet
music of the
leaves, now surrounding her, Enveloping
sweet child, Eula But
she lies not alone, no, no, Her
mother, disparaged, lies
for her Her
brothers too, near, standing
their sister, Watching
is love, beneath the sweet sod of Edmonson
beneath this mighty Oak Tragedy,
long forgotten Once
they dreamed of days of plenty, but
listen to Meadowlark, from beneath crude stone
as the conductor waives his colorful
but wait; their father, and mother's husband,
not two miles from them, Apart,
matter, for their spirits, and his, Live elsewhere now No
longer cold, no longer lonely, They
live with the
once again; family for eternity
author's name in
of the message we
won't know where to send it.)