From the first year of her life, she made the trip up the mountain with her Mama and Daddy. Every spring they traveled up the dirt road to Mountain Creek, riding in an old car of questionable dependability. Windows rolled down, they arrived at the cemetery with their best, and only, Sunday dresses covered in the red dust of a dry Alabama dirt road. They arrived early, long before the church singing began, to clean up, and decorate with freshly picked flowers, the graves of family members.
When she was a toddler, she made the trip one winter, with her mama and daddy, to bury her baby brother. In the spring, they dressed his grave as best they could, and lingered long after the church grew silent.
In the winter of 1967 and ‘68, she made the trip up the mountain twice, exactly two months apart, to bury her mama, and then her daddy. She was only twenty-four years old. After that, the trips up the mountain took on a deeper sadness. A heartbreak for her that will never fully recover.
In the fifty years since leaving her parents there, she has never missed a spring trip to the Alabama mountain. Presently, it’s difficult for her to get around, but she cleans the granite, gently removes the old flowers, and reverently sets about “decorating”, with the new flowers she has brought from Georgia. Beautiful sprays of spring flowers are set upon the gravel covered graves. The dark granite vase is lovingly filled with a burst of colorful blooms. During the prior weeks, she’s put a lot of thought into the flowers she gives her mama, daddy and brother. This year, rather than pinks and yellows, she chose deep red roses, the same color she placed on their graves that first Christmas, in 1968.
She’s in her final years now, and she knows this. She’s worried about who will care for their graves when she’s no longer here. Her concern makes me so sad for her.
I’ve promised her I’ll make sure it gets done, as long as I’m still around.