24 Mayıs 2023

The Graveyard- A Halloween Story


I don’t know why, but I have always been fascinated with cemeteries. As I travel around the country I often walk through graveyards– especially country graveyards– and visit the graves. Back home, I know most of the departed by name.Perhaps I love cemeteries so much because I can sense… something… about the burial sites. Overall, most cemeteries are quiet and peaceful… but not all. And most graves are quiet and peaceful… but not all. Some graves have a cloud of anger over them. Others radiate joy or peace. I once visited a graveyard on the top of a ridge that overlooked a huge valley filled with farms. Almost all of the graves there, and the cemetery itself, seemed to radiate joy and peace. As I left, I told the people buried there, “You chose a wonderful place and this entire cemetery feels so peaceful.”Yes, I talk to the graves.As I left that cemetery, I heard a voice– maybe only in my head– say, “Thank you.” I just smiled and kept going.Now that my kids are grown, I walk more often down the road on which I live to a small country cemetery. It is a peaceful place. Most of the graves there are what I call neutral, or quiet. That means that there are no echos of past emotions and no sense that some presence remains with the grave. It feels as if whoever was buried there has peacefully moved on.Two graves in the old section in the back radiate a great, black cloud of anger that spills over onto other nearby graves. The angry graves are very old graves. It is barely possible to read the names that were once etched deeply into the limestone grave markers. One grave is also marked with an old, corroded Maltese cross of the C.S.A. The grave next to it, which carries the same last name, is marked with an equally tarnished G.A.R. medallion. I often wonder if they were brothers or perhaps father and son who chose, for some reason, to fight– and die– on opposite sides of that bitter war. I also wonder if the anger which still pours from Ankara escort those graves is aimed at each other or at the stupidity of war or just at the violent way in which they died.The “Lonely Grave” is located out front near the road in the new section. I often spend a great deal of time talking to the woman in the lonely grave. I call it the Lonely Grave because the first time I visited it, an intense feeling of emptiness and longing enveloped me as I approached the gravesite.Perhaps I should say gravesites. There are two plots there. They have matching granite headstones, but one of them is blank. I am fairly sure that the second gravesite is empty. The first bears the name, Mary Melinda Scarcliff. Beneath the name is her date of birth and date of death. Then beneath the date of death, in a flowing, handwriting-style script almost at the very bottom of the headstone, it says, “A Loving Mother.”I assume the other grave was intended for the father. I often wondered what separated them. Did he remarry and move away after her death or were they already separated? If so, was he at all a part of their children’s lives as they grew up or did she have to raise them as a single mother. From the emptiness and loneliness, I felt fairly sure that he left completely while the kids were still young. But perhaps I am reading my own circumstances into her life.I often talked to her after Suzy left. I knew that Suzy was too pretty for me when I married her, but she loved me… then. After two kids she decided that she was, in fact, too pretty for me and left to “live out the life she should have had” in New York. I never saw or heard from her again.Raising two children on my own was very difficult. Whenever it got too difficult– and I had someone to watch Amy and Cliff for a while– I would walk down to the cemetery and talk to Mary. I thought somehow she would understand. She never answered, but before I left I Ankara escort bayan would often feel as if strength had flowed into me.Last Halloween someone vandalized the cemetery. They spray-painted some of the gravestones with profanities and obscene symbols. Others they toppled. I couldn’t help reset the heavy granite monuments that had been pushed over, but I did spend many hours slowly removing the paint from Mary’s stone and some of the others. For some reason, they didn’t bother the blank stone next to hers. They also smashed a lot of mailboxes on our road. Mine was spared because it was on a tool bench in my garage. We don’t get any trick or treaters this far out in the country, but we do get occasional raucous teenagers out for no good. Usually that means a couple mailboxes smashed by thrown pumpkins or perhaps pumpkins thrown into the yard. No one had ever bothered the cemetery before last Halloween. And they didn’t this Halloween either because I stayed out there all night.I set the lights at the house on automatic so it would look like someone was still home and drove down to the cemetery. I parked my car behind the caretaker’s shed so it wasn’t visible from the road, and then I set a lawn chair next to Mary’s grave. I wasn’t protecting just her grave, but hers was the reason I was there.I heard several cars full of noisy teenagers drive past. And once an empty beer bottle came sailing into the cemetery and crashed against one of the stones closest to the road. It started getting less noisy around eleven and as midnight approached the road became totally quiet. I stood in front of her grave and said, “It looks like things are quiet now. The drunks and crazies seem to have called it a night.”As I was folding my chair a lady’s voice said clearly, “You don’t have to leave, you know.”I started to say that I was tired, but then I realized that the voice wasn’t just in my head. I was actually Escort Ankara hearing it. I spun to face Mary’s grave. My mouth opened in shock at the sight of her standing there smiling at me. Her clothing was a bit out of date, but her naturally wavy, black hair could pass for a current style.“How… How… How… How is this possible?” I stammered out.“Almost anything is possible at midnight on Halloween,” she said sweetly.As if to reinforce her words, the bell of the clock in the church tower in town could be faintly heard ringing out the midnight hour.“Are you Mary?” I asked.“Who else,” she said with a smile and almost a giggle. Then she pointed at a blanket on the ground and said, “Sit here with me.”“Why are you here?” I asked softly.“Do you mean before… or now?” she replied. Then she continued, “When Ralph left me and the children, I was filled with anger at first. Then it was replaced with… emptiness. I managed to raise the kids despite having no help from Ralph or his family. They wouldn’t even talk to me. He had told them from the beginning that marrying me was a mistake. I thought having children would make him truly love me, but it had the opposite effect. When David, my second, was born, he left.”She sighed and pointed at the blank tombstone. “We had purchased gravesites when this new section of the cemetery was established. The cost of the lots included a free headstone… to be engraved at our cost when needed.” She looked me in the eyes and said, “Some of the old biddies in town said I died of a broken heart. That wasn’t true. I died from working eighteen hours a day to raise my family. I cut back to more regular hours after they were grown, but the damage had already been done. My kids both moved away to find jobs in the cities. I died young… and alone. And then I was buried here… alone.”She stood for a moment and walked over to touch her tombstone. “You would think that I would have wanted to get away from the loneliness as soon as I could, but emptiness isn’t empty. It is a very heavy thing. It weighs you down. It can hold you back. I stayed here crying and feeling sorry for myself until you came along. Your pain and emptiness was so much like mine had been, but you had someone to talk to… me.”

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