Grave walking on Decoration Day

Published 7:15 pm Friday, May 27, 2022

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My granny’s words stung like bees and hurt a whole lot more.

“Get yourself offa there! You know better than to walk on a grave. What’s got into you!”

I jumped off the grave slab and ran as hard as I could to the back of the graveyard. Partly, because my granny was coming toward me with a yard broom but, mainly, because tears were stinging my eyes

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I wished I had stayed at home with Mama. She would have come to Decoration Day except we were going to have a picnic and she didn’t want to eat outside where flies were swarming and ants were crawling. If I could have crawled down in one of those holes in that ant bed, I would have. My granny. hollering at me in front of all those people at Decoration Day.

I kept my eyes down and busied myself picking up rocks and putting them in my bucket.

I felt sad and ashamed of what I had done. Nobody had told me not to walk on a grave. I’d just stepped up there to put rocks in a jar of flowers so it wouldn’t get blown over. That was my job -picking up rocks and putting them in the vases and Mason jars of flowers that decorated the graves on Decoration Day.

Early that morning, my granny wanted to go to the graveyard over around Texasville. It was Decoration Day and folks would be coming to clean up the graveyard and put flowers on all the graves of men that had fought in wars. We stopped along the road and picked wild flowers and outhouse roses that were climbing along the fence rows.

At the cemetery, my granny said in a loud voice for all us young’uns to hear, “Don’t be playing now. We’re all here to work!”

I picked up the little rocks that were scattered along the road by the cemetery and put them in my bucket. As soon as anybody put flowers in a jar of water, I dropped in a few rocks for weight. That had been fun until I stepped on the grave and got yelled at.

“If you step on a grave, the spirits will come out and drag you off into the woods,” a mean boy cousin said. “Sometimes, they’ll come out of the grave and get in your pocket. Then, when you are in the bed asleep, the spirits will come out and take you back to the grave with them.”

Tears came in my eyes but I wiped them away with the back of my hand.’

The ladies had put out a big picnic but my stomach hurt and I couldn’t eat.

Uncle Ezra came and sat down by me.

“Little girls that put rocks in vases on Decoration Day are very special,” he said. “They make the spirits happy. Did you know that?”

All of a sudden, my stomach stopped hurting. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a drumstick and then went back to put rocks in the jars. But, I turned my pockets inside out and left them out. Then, I went back to the grave I had walked on and whispered that I was sorry and that I would never ever do that again.