Grave walkers die … Or worse

Published 7:27 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

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My granny’s word stung like a bee 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 that I had stayed home with Mama. 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 the ant bed, I would have – my granny hollering at me with all those folks around.

I started picking up rocks and putting them in my bucket.

I felt sad and ashamed.  Nobody had told me not to walk on a grave. I’d just stepped up there to put rocks in the 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.

Early that morning, my granny said she wanted to go to the graveyard “over around home.” It was Decoration Day and folks would be coming to clean up the graveyard and put flowers on all the graves.

We picked a few flowers in Aunt Eleanor’s yard but there weren’t many, So, on the way to the graveyard – somewhere around Texasville or Bakerhill – we stopped along the road and picked wildflowers and outhouse roses that were climbing the fences.

Picking roses reminded me of a song about hardhearted Barbrie Allen and Sweet William, When they died a rose grew out of his grave and briars out of hers. The briars and roses wrapped around in a true-lovers’ knot. That’s why roses have thorns, my granny said.

“Don’t be playing now. We’re here to work.”

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

Somebody yelled for us to come eat and we went running.

Our picnic lunch would usually have been my favorite part of Decoration Day but I couldn’t eat. My heart still hurt because I’d stepped on a grave.

Granny said Decoration Day was also Memorial Day, a special day, to put special flowers and flags on the graves of our soldiers and a day to decorate all the graves with flowers. 

“In every one of the graves is somebody that was so much loved. That’s why we don’t ever step on graves,” my granny said.    

I went over to the grave I had walked on and brushed it off and whispered “I’m sorry.”  Then, I went back and ate two drumsticks and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.