Theme Friday: People

When a man is larger than life you can sometimes trick yourself into thinking he is also larger than death, and I sort of thought that would be true for Bobby Wayne. 

I say “sort of” because, when he told me goodbye, he also told me that except for dying he was already dead, and he’d never lied to me before.

Still.  I mean, come on.  This is BW we’re talking about.  He lived larger than larger than life.

Even so, there we were at his memorial service a couple of weeks later, grown men crying right along with me and my sister, with Bobby’s wife and children, his mother and brother and sisters, and everyone else who loved and will never forget him.

After the service I drove to Lucerne.  Paula was with me, and though she’d been there before, she hadn’t yet gone where we were going.  Dad was on my mind and I needed to put Pat’s marker on his grave.

We wound around through town, up the front hill and back across the highway to the cemetery, windows down for the sound of tires on the gravel.  I parked halfway between the old and the new, and Paula and I walked over to the edge of the old where the folks are.

“This is where we keep our people,” I said.  She nodded and looked around, and remarked how well looked after the hallowed ground was.  I told her it has to be, that in a town this small, our responsibility to take good care doesn’t end with death.

A little more than a year ago my brothers and sisters and I had carried our Dad across the grass in his casket, and sat him down where we were now standing.  Mom was gone.  It was up to us to see to him, and after the trouble in his first nursing home we couldn’t really trust him to anyone else.  The six of us carried him ourselves, and buried him there where the grass was now growing, thanks to Little Brother for taking good care to seed it and tend to the grave.

Back in Georgia two weeks later, I was chasing down some historical markers when I came across an overgrown field.  From the side road I could see stones of some sort, but couldn’t quite get a handle on what they were.  The ruins of an old building?  Abandoned cinder blocks?

I parked and made my way up the hill and into the middle of the brushy mess.  All along the hillside was grave after abandoned grave, some stones upright, and some nearly buried atop the people they’d been set to honor.  I walked carefully between them, from one to the next, reading the names I could and saying them aloud in prayer, but there were far too many to number or name individually.

The villanelles that come to mind on grounds like these were absent as I looked around the ruins, and cummings gnawed at me instead.  ee had wondered how Mister Death liked his blue eyed boy, but what I want to know is: WHOSE PEOPLE ARE THESE?

***

Christine and Annie take on People.

11 Responses to “Theme Friday: People”

  1. […] Clancy’s people abound… from → fiction, original prose, people, theme fridays ← Sunset – Theme Friday No comments yet Click here to cancel reply. […]

  2. Karen Todd Says:

    I have memory of BW at NHHS. Now I wish that I had taken the time to know him better but I was a senior and we didn’t pay much attention to the freshmen. We were just full of ourselves with all of our knowledge heading out into the world…and now a “Do Over” would be nice.

    I followed you some weeks before to the cemetery in Lucerne to the graves of our family and feel grateful that their graves are so well cared for. I miss them. There is sadness in the abandoned graves you found in GA & the ones I found in Central City. They have gone on to a better world though.

    • clancyjane Says:

      It’s cliche to say “He was a good man”, but he really was a Good man.

      I’d like to go to Central City. We might call you for details when we’re up there next.

  3. I am awash in tears and have so many thoughts and feelings coursing through me: gratitude for the well-tended family cemetery in SW Virginia where my mom grew up and that I visit too rarely … envy of the kind of family and small town in which you were raised and which you carry so powerfully inside you still … sadness for those people who were abandoned after their deaths and wondering if that will happen to me. You are an AWESOME writer. You prove this every Friday, but this posting was beyond superb. TGIF has a new meaning for me. Thank you so much!

    • clancyjane Says:

      Thank YOU, Susan. I love how you’ve described your feelings associated with the find, and especially “which you carry so powerfully inside you still”. What a wonderful way to say that.

      My Dad’s people are from Rockbridge County, VA…

  4. I have always had a fascination with graveyards, and particularly, abandoned ones. It is easy to understand how in just a generation or two, a body laid to rest is forgotten. Still, there is such a weird sort of energy around a stone, the only thing left, for most of us, that says “I was here.”

    Maybe that’s why we’re writers? To have something else to leave behind?

    • clancyjane Says:

      I think you’re probably right about that– in some cases. I have a feeling you write because you were born for it. The legacy you’ll create with the words you leave behind is just gravy. 🙂

  5. Wow Clancy the graveyard of the forgotten. Maybe those people didn’t have any people – or the people they had, they have no longer. Death is funny it gives people permission to forget if they’ve a mind to. Great work.

    Love
    Annie

    • clancyjane Says:

      Thank you, Annie.
      Their people MUST be gone. What’s more curious is that after you crest the hill where the abandoned graves are, another cemetery (or perhaps it used to be part of that cemetery) is visible– this one completely manicured. Mere yards away. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

  6. The close made me- smile? Is that wrong? But I swear, I can imagine you knocking on people’s doors asking who those people belong to, and why aren’t they tending to their business.

    Seriously.

    Good, supergood job for making me see that. Unless I just made it up? But I don’t think so. Still, please tell me if I have.

    When we’d visit my Avo and dad at the cemetary, my sisters and I would look around at the other graves. We’d marvel at those who’d died so long ago- the 1800’s and the like. Then there were the babies and children. We’d cry and look at each other gratefully.

    The only one I could never stand was my dad’s. I’d do everything to avoid looking at the stone with his name on it.

    • clancyjane Says:

      Thanks, C. You haven’t made it up. I’m scheduled to go back there on Monday and get some answers. 🙂

      I completely understand about the name on the stone. I’d like to read more about that one day…

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