Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Post Cemetery Visit

I went to the cemetery last weekend -- not in observance of Memorial Day -- for a different reason.  When my mother told me that she was heading out to Jersey to visit her parents, my first thought was “Have a good time!” but I ignored my inner voice and said “I’ll go with you”.  After all it’s been about 15 years since we’ve been out to the cemetery and my brother was meeting us – Oh happy family day!

Saturday was hot and what made it even hotter was the fact that we caught the wrong bus. Any other time this would be my fault because I’m always late but this was my mother’s fault for: 1. Not reading the ticket and the number of the bus; 2. Not asking the driver if she was getting on the right bus and; 3. For getting on the bus that arrived at 9:50 and not the one we were supposed to get on at 10:10.  See my mother is a ball of nervous energy and I knew better than to trust her judgment, that day, but I had been ignoring my inner voice for a few days already…  We discovered our error almost at the end of our trip.  The bus driver, instead of letting us ride out with him and double back for a transfer, put us out in the middle of nowhere and we waited for him to return for us.  Long story not so long, a trip that would have taken 60 minutes took 3 and a half hours.

We finally get the right bus, meet up with my brother and head to the cemetery but we have no clue where we are going.  There are about 5 cemeteries in that part of town and when we asked for directions no one seemed to know where our destination was - except this one young lady who probed us a little before giving directions.  She said “No offense, I hope y’all don’t take this no kinda way, but ummm are you referring to the Black Cemetery?”.  I wasn’t fazed by this.  Reason being, the first time we went out there me and my brother went into this pizzeria for a slice and not only did we not get served, the folks inside the restaurant stopped eating the minute we entered.  This was not 1955 but more like 1985.  I answered “yes” and got the directions while my mother and brother were paralyzed by the question.  As I repeated that directions to my brother, he in turn asked my mother why did they choose that cemetery out of all of the cemeteries in the tri-state area?  My mother explained that in the 70s when they buried her mom and sister they weren’t given choices and it was economical.  We buried my grandfather there in the late 90s because his wife and daughter are there. We had no idea it was filled with Black folks.

We get to the “Black Cemetery” and my mother is complaining about the grass not being cut but water is constantly running from the cemetery’s office which I’m sure is the reason why the grass is overgrown.  While in search for my grandmother’s grave which has a marker, we are stepping all over people’s graves and in mud.  I’m talking ankle deep mud.  My feet, my pants, my sandals are wet!  I hate wet feet.  That is uncomfortable and unnerving to me. ILL wet feet!

We find my grandmother and my grandfather who are buried separately. Grandfather does not have a marker because right about now we can’t afford it but we locate where he is because he’s on the edge of the grounds and his is the only grave, in that area, with flowers on it.  Which leads me back to the reason for this venture… to see if they placed the flowers that my mother paid for and to see if the grass was cut. 10 minutes into our visit and my mother is ready to go back to the Bronx.  My hair, once beautifully coiled is now a jagged fro.  My feet are muddy ashy.  My clothes fit like I sweated in them because I had.  We’re all a shade browner from the sun and my mother doesn’t even want to sit and chat with her parents and sister for a spell.  I vowed to never ignore my inner voice again!

Closing Thoughts…
I’m grateful for the trip because I simply love cemeteries.  Ever since my first visit to that particular cemetery I have enjoyed the serenity and the nature so it was a joy to visit my grandparents and my auntie, even for a couple of minutes.  Plus it was a segue for me to tell my family what my plans were in the event of my death.  I realize this may be morbid for some but it’s truly a part of life.  I tell them that should I pass before they do, feel free to burn me a day later and place me in whatever container they wish!  My mother hems and haws and tells me she’s not doing it.  My brother is all silent and I know he’s thinking the same and so I tell them both – "Look, my insurance just lapsed!  I don’t know how y’all are coming up with money for a funeral, a burial and a marker!"  So then my mother says… “Well how much would I save on cremation? And you said “any container”?”  Money changes things!