Tuesday, November 16, 2010

History, Heritage, Legacy

My "Granny", Annie Mae, would always take us to the cemetery to change out the flowers, rake or pull weeds, and of course say a prayer while standing over the grave of our loved ones.  It was not morbid nor sad.  It was a time for my sisters and I to learn about our ancestors and their lives.  We would ask questions about their time on Earth and Granny would proudly answer each and every question. She was teaching.  Teaching us about our heritage. Teaching us to honor our family members who had passed away before us.  Teaching us to care for the graves that marked their existence. Teaching us to pray. Teaching us to not fear death, to understand it is part of our journey.  She would always point to the empty grave with her name and birth engraved on the tombstone to the right of her husband, my grandfather, "Popeye", and explain that someday her body would be laid to rest next to his. As that day sadly did come that we laid her sweet body next to his, we somehow found comfort that we had known the plan all along.  That we as children had been taught that death does not end life. Death is only the beginning of a new life, a life far more wonderful than we can imagine. A life that we know we will reach and be once again with those we love so dearly.
So now when we travel home to Texas, I take my children to the cemetery.
I proudly teach and pray as Granny did.
Here are some photos of some very old tombstones in the St. Mary's  Cemetery.  None of these belong to my family members.  I just found them interesting and quite beautiful.
It makes one ponder on the lives they lived.  
The hardships and moments of joy they shared.

The Pecan Trees Give Shade.
I am always saddened and intrigued by the graves of infants.
It was not uncommon in the late 1800's to early 1900's for children to die during childbirth.
I know there is a story to each and every marker.
These Czech immigrants lived hard lives.  They lived off their land.  They raised livestock and worked their farms. My grandfather was the last of 13 children, not including 2  siblings who died in childbirth. His father buried 2 wives and 2 infants during his lifetime.

St. Mary's Church stands guard over the cemetery.
When my Aunt Milady passed away her funeral mass was celebrated in this Church.  After the mass the pall bearers carried her casket across the street to her final resting place as we followed behind.  It reminded me of days past when neighbors became like family as horse and buggy were the mode of transportation. .The community nearest to your farm became your family. Granny would tell stories of how her teacher at times would have to stay over at her farmhouse when it rained. The dirt roads would become to muddy for her horse and buggy to maneuver. Each community built a Church.  Each community built a schoolhouse. Together the community buried their members by walking from the Church to their grave.  Our lives today are so spread out. The community as it was has changed.  With that change comes gain and loss. In many ways I wish we still lived as communities. I think I would have liked those days.

1 comment:

grammyscraps said...

What an important and positive role your Granny played in your life. As a genealogist, I love all the family history and story telling she shared with you...as a Grammy, I love the close bond she formed with you all in doing so. What a special lady.
I love visiting cemeteries so enjoyed your photos.
Thanks for inviting me as a friend on Pioneer Woman...I am enjoying browsing your blog.