I’ve always been fascinated by cemeteries.
I was one of those strange children who enjoyed the outings to the family plot when we’d visit my grandmother. I didn’t know who was there and why we’d go. I just knew it was important to my grandmother.
The great thing for me was standing quietly in a respectful pose, but that wasn’t all. I would see spirits gathering. Most often they were far away, but I knew they were there and I believe they knew I could sense and see them.
My Uncle John was always with his camera, but not when we went to the cemetery. I thought it odd, because the pictures he could take there would be so much more interesting to me than the ones he took of people and places I didn’t know and didn’t really care about.
On one visit I remember it being cold and damp.
At the entrance to the cemetery was a stand that sold bouquets of flowers. My uncle and father got out to make the selection.
I distinctly heard, “Humph! I would prefer flowers from my own garden at home.”
I didn’t know who said it. I reasoned it couldn’t have been my grandmother or her sister. If that was what they believed, they wouldn’t have Uncle John buy flowers.
I was puzzled, but I kept quiet. In those days children were to be seen and not heard and I knew my place.
We drove the path to the family plot and got out of the car. My grandmother took the lead and we followed. I was more interested in all the pretty bouquets of flowers and the other people walking around. Real people and spirits.
“Such a waste of money!” I heard. “I don’t know what they were thinking.”
Then a male voice said calmly, “Marie, they come. Be grateful.”
I felt a chill and sneezed. My mother didn’t want me catching cold and told me to sit in the car.
In the car, I met my great-grandmother and great-grandfather.
“Tell them,” she began, “tell them not to buy flowers, but get them from the garden.”
“I remember the day we planted that garden,” Great-grandfather said. “There was such a discussion on what to plant and how to keep it producing flowers all year.”
They continued talking and I listened, but said nothing.
“Are you hearing us?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” I said nodding.
Of course, that was when my mother decided to get into the car.
“Who are you talking to?”
I immediately told her what I had learned about the flowers and the garden and how Great-grandmother wanted flowers from her garden instead of the over-priced ones sold by the cemetery.
The end of my conversation with my mother didn’t go unnoticed by my grandmother who wanted to hear the whole conversation. Evidently, she got chilled and came to the car.
I really didn’t feel comfortable talking about the spirits . . . and their talking with me to my grandmother or other members of the family. My mother didn’t encourage me to do so normally, but since we were “caught” my mother’s nod indicated it was all right.
That evening when the gates to the cemetery were closed, we went back.
My grandmother did play it “cool” by telling the rest of the family how she remembered collecting flowers from the garden to take to the cemetery. Then others chimed in also recalling those times.
Sitting in the warm house discussing how we would give Great-Grandmother the flowers she wanted seemed like a good idea, but standing outside the cemetery gates in the cold damp foggy night air, I wasn’t so sure.
I was still surprised by how went along with the plot to have my brother and I sneak into the cemetery.
We parked a distance away and walked to the gate. My brother and I slipped through the bars. Gary held the flashlight and was the navigator and I followed carrying the flowers.
There was a thick fog covering the cemetery. It was creepy. I didn’t know where we were or if we would find the right spot.
“It’s over there,” I said pointing. It seemed the fog lifted for us to follow a path to our destination.
“Do you see them?” Gary asked.
“No, but I think they’re helping us.”
Now that I think of that conversation, I think he was referring to the headstones, not the spirits of our great-grandparents.
We did find the right spot with the help of friendly spirits.
Back at my grandmothers house, it seemed about the same time we placed the flowers on the headstones, her house was filled with the fragrance of flowers. I would have liked to have experienced that.
This early introduction to sneaking into a cemetery after dark may have planted a seed.
To this day I go to the cemetery after dark and place flowers on graves. Some cemetery gates are open and others have gates that close at dusk. I sometimes join a group of florists who place flowers on graves for holidays.
This seems to be my calling to remember those who have passed long ago.
I have met some interesting spirits throughout the years . . . I’ve also been spooked more times than I care to admit. But, in the end, I am so very grateful that I’ve been able to do this . . . and it began so very many years ago.
Thanks for stopping by!