Burying a loved one is never easy, and I must say it’s even less easy when it’s a little child. We lost our newborn grandson on Thursday, and among many difficult decisions to make was his final resting place. Our side of the family are transplants here; we have no history or roots, which makes it all the harder. Some years ago, I began researching the family history of my daughter-in-law, whose family has been in the area for some time. Before going any further, let me clarify that burying a child never ever feels good, but sometimes you just need to make a decision that feels “right.”
Three years ago I discovered that my daughter-in-law had great-grandparents buried in a beautiful rural cemetery just outside of a tiny village about 6 blocks wide and about the same distance long. I knew these folks had a long history in the village and throughout the township. With my camera in tow, I picked a lovely early-summer day to drive the 15 miles to the cemetery, hoping to locate the graves, pay my respects, and take some nice photographs for her family history. The cemetery was well-kept and full of shady evergreen trees, and the sounds of various birds accented the hum of a tractor in the background. The weather was perfect. It felt good. I decided to photograph the entire cemetery, thinking that perhaps someone’s research might benefit from my efforts. I can tell you now, the person who benefitted the most was me.
I found the great-grandparents about a third of the way through the cemetery. I had done so much research on them, I nearly forgot this was not my family as I stood at the foot of their graves and felt a bit emotional at the thought of actually being there. When I finished, I continued on my mission. I had not gotten too far when I discovered the great-grandmother’s mother, Effie Mae, buried in the cemetery as well, with her husband, Will. I kept going. I found Will’s parents, and his grandparents there. I found Effie Mae’s parents, and her grandparents buried there as well. Eight generations back, our little newborn grandson’s ancestors rested, dotted throughout the small cemetery.
Today my son purchased the plot next to the great-grandparents, the original focus of my search, and we will lay our sweet little angel to rest there in a few days. I feel comforted that he is surround by history – HIS history – and that he will not be alone. For the last 100 years, members of his family have gathered in that cemetery, burying grandparents, parents, children, nieces, nephews and cousins. Now we will be among those to do so. I’ll think of his great-great-great-great grandmother, Jennie, as she buried her own 5 month old baby there. This still does not feel good, but it does feel right.