Sunday, May 18, 2008

Down in a blaze of glory

This weekend, in the grand tradition of my childhood, we went to a cemetery (my dad is a genealogy fiend, and we often played in cemeteries as children while he got birth and death info from gravestones--yeah, that's what I said). Not just any cemetery, mind you, but the 110th anniversary celebration of the Mormon cemetery in Society Hill, SC. Getting there required us to take Jacob on his longest car trip yet (going, he was great. coming back, he was not so great.) and meant that we traveled north across the state and into the sand hills of South Carolina with the route passing through ever more rural country until we got to the cemetery on a tiny little road that no one drives on except people coming to visit there.

We went for several reasons: one, I have a brother buried there whose grave I haven't visited all that often in my life since I left South Carolina as a child. Two, my Jacob is named after that brother (they share first names, though neither of them goes by his first name), so we needed to get some pictures of the baby with the memorial to his namesake. Three, this cemetery is maintained by the folks who practically raised my brother and sister and I when we were small children (literally: my sister is in every family picture they ever took during the years between when she was born and we moved away) after my parents moved into their little congregation, and it seemed right to come to help them celebrate since we do live in the state now.

The visit was fun. They told lots of stories about us as young children and the things my father said or did that live on in their collective memory. As the husband pointed out, it's like my parents are royalty in the area so we are royalty by association, even though we all left many years ago. In fact, we were recognized during the proceedings so everyone would know we were there, which was a tad embarrassing but not at all unexpected (for those who know/care, we've included some pics of our visit in the web gallery). Not a lot changes in this place, which is at once comforting and a little sad. Indeed, 75% of the attendees at the celebration were over 75, underscoring the very real fact that many parts of rural America like this one are slowly dying. When those folks are buried, there will be very few young people left to celebrate their legacies.

We didn't stay long, slaves as we are right now to establishing and maintaining Jacob's bedtime routine. We could have shlepped the pack-n-play over and crashed at one of our friend's houses, but it's really only 2 1/2 hours away, and we had a busy Sunday ahead of us, as usual, so we trundled home. But our visit was worthwhile (if only to confirm for both of us yet again that Charleston is the smallest "city" we ever want to live in. We both started out in small towns, but we've really become more (dread the term) suburban in our tastes since then) and they appreciated our coming, so it was time well spent.

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