I was struck by a thought last night. Sometimes that just happens out of the blue – some random, irrelevant thought pops into my head, and then it has me off on a quest for more knowledge. Usually, I can store it for later, but sometimes, it grabs me and won’t let go.
Usually, there’s nothing much going on in my head when I do get grabbed by that random thought. This time, I think I was only slightly listening to a TV show, while playing a game on my phone, randomly talking with hubby, and thinking that my knees hurt. And randomly checking Facebook. I was reading and responding to someone about the history of Blackland Cemetery, and it occurred to me that while hubby was watching 48 Hours a.g.a.i.n. … I could jump onto the computer and start tracing some of the families that we know about that are possibly buried in Blackland.
This one grabbed me. Thing 1 was at work, so I jumped on his computer, and figured out how to open two Internet tabs (hey, it’s a Mac. It’s challenging). AND Excel at the same time, and I began creating a database of names and dates. 86 or so names later, I had a table I could sort. (Kind of. Excel doesn’t like dates prior to 1900. I found a workaround for the moment).
I kind of started that database to see if we could trace the families. But also … my mind like to make patterns out of things. I had noticed that many deaths seemed to occur in May. Or at least, those were the ones I noticed in the beginning. But by putting everything into a spreadsheet, I could sort so many different ways.
86 unique people.
39 of those 86 (45%) passed away between birth and the age of 20.
27 of those 86 (31%) passed away between 1890 and 1899, who were as young as newborn, and as old as 71, none in February or July.
11 of those 27 passed away in 1899.
As could be expected, most of the people buried in Blackland are related to one another. Children, aunts and uncles, parents, grandparents. One family traces somewhere to another one, and beyond. All told, it seems that there are about four generations buried in Blackland, related in some fashion to each other.
What popped into my head last night I was building this database was something Thing 1 said to me just a few days ago. “You don’t really die until your name is said for the very last time. That’s when no one remembers you any longer.”
Wow. Think about that.
Graveyards are made for the living. Ok, sure, it’s the place where we bury our dead. Nice and orderly, and in one location. And we visit them to remember. About the time this cemetery was founded (created?), America began what is called the Rural Cemetery Movement. Rather than crowded cemeteries where there was no room for new internments, a movement began to make them nicer, more “enjoyable” – restful and peaceful. Wide open lawns, and pathways to stroll through – they became a place to contemplate life and loved ones. These became the beginnings of public parks as we know them today.
But there it is – a place to contemplate life and loved ones. Once our final resting place is forgotten – are we well and truly gone? How does our family remember us? How do we remember them?
And it hit me. And then this morning, I had one of those wonderful Google quotes pop up:
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
And then this:
What trees have you planted?
What trees will you plant?
And who will remember?
I hope mine have been healthy. And I hope that they will be strong and sturdy and will last more than one lifetime. I hope they have inspired dreams and journeys and countless smiles and much laughter and love.
And if I’m remembered for anything, that is enough.