Father Time

When I’m visiting Luke, wandering among the graves can be oddly comforting. After all, there’s no place where death is more normal than a cemetery.

graves overlooking hills

The cemetery where Luke is buried

Whole life histories are etched there on the stones. Marriages, births, military service, favorite sports teams, inside jokes (“Remember, I’m watching you like a hawk” reads an inscription on the back of one marker). And, of course, deaths.

There’s the woman who died at 101, outliving her husband by 50 years. The 23-year-old “loving wife and mother.” The couple who had four children from 1911 to 1915: a daughter who apparently never married, a son who served in World War II and the Korean War, a second son who served in World War II, and a third son who died at age 9.

One couple died on the same day in 1922. How did it happen, I wonder? House fire?

There are many children buried here. In the children’s section, along with Luke, there are eight other babies. Most apparently were stillbirths or died the day they were born. One lived 10 months. Another lived 9.

Children's graves

Children’s section at the cemetery, including Luke’s fresh grave and temporary marker

One baby boy is buried a row over from his parents. His dad died at age 51 (cancer? heart attack?). His mom is still alive, and now 57 years old. Does she have living children, I often wonder?

Elsewhere in the cemetery, there’s a fresh grave, a 6-year-old boy who died 11 days before Luke. In the photo on his temporary marker, he’s grinning and wearing a Oshkosh hoodie. There’s a 9-year-old (“finally free to be a boy”) and an 11-year-old (“We will never forget your infectious smile”).

Some graves date to the Civil War era, the stones blurred and darkened, the names difficult to make out, the flowers and decorations gone for decades.

Most of one row is occupied by a matriarch/patriarch born in the 1820s and surrounded by more than a dozen of their ancestors.

There are children in this section, too. The 1-year-old who died in 1862, the 5-month-old who died in 1892. The white cross marked simply, “Little Gussie.”

child's grave

We can’t outrun Father Time. He always catches up. And eventually, our loved ones will stop visiting, themselves entombed in the earth or scattered on the winds. But someday a grieving mom or dad, husband or wife, sister or brother may wander past our graves, read the inscriptions, and hold their breath in honor and awe of the life and love immortalized there.

Tomb of unborn children

The tomb of unborn children

Inscription inside the tomb of unborn children / Photo by Angela Moxley

Inscription inside the tomb of unborn children

Grave decorations

What it all boils down to: simple sentiment at graveside

Poem on back of marker

Poem on back of marker

Blessed Mother statue

Grotto featuring Blessed Mother statuary and stations of the cross

angel statue in cemetery

Angel statuary and cross in children’s section


3 thoughts on “Father Time

  1. I really like this post a lot. I often have these same thoughts as I walk through the cemetery… Who are these people? What are their stories? When I calculate ages, I realize there’s tragedy everywhere, and I feel less alone in losing my child, but that’s because I’m in a place of death… Out in the world, I feel alone all the time… Everyone loses people they love, but it seems far less common to lose a child… But, yes, I agree – cemeteries are so interesting and sad. So many stories there, of life, love, and loss…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am fascinated by old cemeteries, by the genealogy and families. The child deaths are so sad. You think by now they’d figure out how to keep babies safe!

    Liked by 1 person

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