I was lately inspired to visit my grandparents. The cemetery isn’t walled or gated or overgrown and forgotten. Just a not-so-big Methodist cemetery in rural America. Open, sunny, well cared for. Optimistic. It would never be the setting for a scene in a Gothic novel. I’m glad. I’m glad to look out across a field of green and see sun warming the stones. Yes, I’ve cried there. The memory of playing tag between the stones is stronger. The cemetery runs right up to the Sunday School steps. While I waited for my mother I memorized the names on the headstones, making up stories to go with them. When she was late I visited the graves of my great grandparents and my sister, who lies beside them. I talked. I rarely thought to bring a tribute. I’m not good with observances and formalities. My tribute was my words. In my head I talked to them as though they were there. And now, my grandparents. They weren’t famous. They weren’t war heroes or social activists. They were more than that. They were mine.

A huge basket of wildflowers was spilled over the new grave that summer day seven years ago. She’d have loved them. Wild, leggy beauties that looked as if they’d been gathered on a mountainside. It would have been a shame to leave them to wilt and rot. We picked the ground clean and carried bouquets home to remind us of her. She’d have laughed and done the same. And that’s how it was. We each of us carried something of her away inside ourselves.

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