May 1, 2012

First Saturday in May

The First Saturday in May was always almost a holiday for my grandmother. Since it was for her, that made it a holiday for me, also. She always managed to get flowers for the graves. She often said, "I wonder if they would put flowers for me, if I had gone on before them." The flowers that were sent at the time of death were part of getting ready for the next decoration. The live flowers were left and artificial were put up for decoration in May and August. As years passed she would get warm soapy water and wash them. The artificial fern was used as filler year after year. This should not surprise anyone who knew her; we saved used Christmas paper and used it year after year. I still open Christmas gifts slowly, because of that.  Always at Christmas the same plastic Poinsettia was taken over to the graveyard. Riding over to the cemetery was one of the first trips that we made when we started driving her around. We drove way before the age of sixteen, more like ten. We had no other way to get the push mower to the cemetery. It was a must that we learned to get to the fields to hoe and pick. The mowing of Corum Cemetery was my income earned for school clothes. The summer was mowing for school clothes. The fall was picking cotton for school clothes. My little brother and I split the $125.00 that was earned in a summer mowing. The job was done with a push mower and scissors. My grandmother used the scissors to cut around each tombstone. She had this thing that always bugged me. She would get in this mode, like she was working harder than anyone. It was a little huff with an added faster pace than normal. I am not for positive, but the number that I got was that the cemetery was four acres. It was really an all day job. Cutting around stuff is a pain anyway; imagine four acres of graves. Shoot, walking on a grave is still unsettling to me, but we had to mow over them. The immediate family was buried here. The extended; brothers of my grandparents were buried in Florence at Memorial Gardens. My great grandparents Memorial Gardens also. There is a spot at Corum for me now. I really wish that was not my spot, but I really haven't got anyone to be buried by. I like the idea of cremation, but the people that love me the most think that is just gross. They probably would spill me and accidentally vacuum me up, anyway. I got so familiar with that cemetery, mowing it, that I could tell you exactly where someone was buried. My grandmother knew stories about everyone and the Garner's were related to most of them. Not so much now; there are folks there that are not any kin. Over the years there have been graves added almost to the road on the newest part. Most of them I do not know. I don't have my grandmother to tell me who they are, and if they are kin. Behind the area that my family is buried in is Ben Clemons. He had donated the land that is the newest part of the cemetery. He had ten or more kids. That to my grandmother made her say Ben Clemons' bunch. That was how she described their family. He died not long after we moved here from up-north. It was one of his boys that fell out of his truck, drunk one Sunday. He was driving by our house and just fell out. The truck went on down to Sam Corum's rental house. One day I was cutting behind Ben's grave and noticed clover. Looking for four-leaf clover was and still is something that I do. At the back of his rock every clover in the patch was a four-leaf. My imagination as always was large. I took this as some mystical characteristic of Ben Clemons. The man was nothing special really, just a farmer with lots of kids. He was also the man that was generous enough to give land for Corum Cemetery to hold more of those who wanted to be buried close to home. Still all those lucky clover has reminded me of an experience that I gathered mowing the Corum Cemetery. When I go on Saturday I will check, as I always do, to see if there are any there now. There was a couple of rocks that had pictures on them. Those were always interesting to me. A picture of someone that is passed gives me a feeling that is hard for me to describe. The feeling is not chills. Like the person is in the picture saying I am gone, but I am still somewhere. You are looking into a soul instead of a photo. The first picture that was at Corum was of a couple. The man had died suddenly, stabbed in Elgin, seems like. Grandmother always commented that his wife would probably marry again and not even be buried there. I need to check that out next time I go there, too. One of the most famous stories of people in Corum was Homer Corum. He had died in the middle of Lexington when he crashed his car into a light pole. He was very young with two boys. His wife to this day still grieves his death, forty plus years later. Almost to the back of the old part of the cemetery there is one line of graves; marked only with field rock. The line of graves behind it has only a small foot stone with initial. Grandmother came to the conclusion that a family member purchased all these. The size of the rocks was to her a form of showing off to her. She often commented on the largest one in the graveyard. It was one of Granddaddy's cousins. She certainly thought that it was nothing but a way for Pearl to flaunt success. Busy body is really not what she was, opinionated, critical was more like it. She probably only mentioned most of this stuff to me anyway. I love the fact that she did. I listened and my opinions were swayed by all she knew about dead people. These are just a few things that I gathered listening to my grandmother as we cut that grass, in the heat of the summer.

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