A Time to be Buried – Country-Style

We drove across Minnesota today to the southwestern corner, arriving in Lismore, Minnesota this afternoon. It was time to bury Mom. We headed down the gravel road toward the Protestant cemetery. It used to be surrounded by a fence with trees all around the perimeter and a gate across the driveway into the cemetery. Now many of the old trees are gone, replaced by small new plantings and the fence is long gone as well as the gate.

We drove into the cemetery and as we approached the gravesite, my brother said, “I don’t see a hole, do you?” I looked and didn’t really see one either. Of course, neither one of us knew how big of a hole to expect.

We got nearer to Mom’s tombstone and all of a sudden, John said, “Nope! There’s the hole. I see it!”

“No,” I said, in horror. “It’s in the wrong place. It should be on the other side of the tombstone.”

“Son of a gun,” John said. “Are you kidding me? Well, I know what’s going to go in the blog tonight!”

“Call the digging company,” I told my brother. “We can’t bury Mom BEHIND her headstone!”

It wasn’t long before a pickup truck came barreling up the road, spewing a tail of dust behind it. It pulled into the cemetery and two older gentlemen got out. We explained the situation. They looked at the headstone. They looked at the hole. Finally one of them said, “Well, these old plot maps are a little hard to read.”

“What’s so hard to read about my Mom’s name on the tombstone,” I asked them.

“Well, we’ve been burying people for a lot of years and we just followed the normal protocol,” they said.

“You’re kidding, right?” I asked them. “Nobody gets buried behind their tombstone. You put their bodies down right in front of the spot where their engraving is. It’s like a bed with the headstone as the headboard.”

They looked at me blankly.

“Look,” I explained. “Nobody comes out to a gravesite and stands behind a grave and says, ‘Oh, it’s so nice to be visiting …..now what was her name? (at this point, I leaned over the tombstone and peered at the name) Oh, yes…it’s so nice to be visiting Marguerite. Heck, no! They stand looking right at the tombstone with the name engraved on it and remember the person who is buried under their feet.”

They looked at me and said, “It won’t take us but a few minutes to dig a new hole.”

“You’re not going to charge us for two holes, are you?” I asked them.

The cemetery caretaker assured me that we’d only be paying for one hole.

It was then that we discovered that my grandmother was great friends with his mother and for the rest of the time that it took to dig the other hole, we caught up on all the folks we knew from town…who had passed away, who had moved back to the area…and whose farms had now passed into other hands. In the meantime, the owner of the digging company was working hard on the new hole and frankly, I was a little worried that the job might give him a fatal heart attack right on the spot. The weather was hot and we had learned that he was 85. Periodically, he would sit down on Mom’s headstone and take a breather.

It was finally dug and they headed off to town to give us some privacy for a small ceremony that we conducted. I had been a tad choked up but we managed to end with a rousing chorus of “Turkey Land”, one of Mom’s favorite songs. Wouldn’t you know that I hit the wrong button as I was trying to record this and ended up not recording any of it? My brother said, “Thank God!”

Then we gave the guys a call so that they could come back to fill the hole(s) back in. While we waited, we walked around the cemetery and took some pictures of several interesting things that I’ll tell you about tomorrow in my post.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few last glimpses of the lovely setting for Mom’s final earthly resting place.

This is the view from the back boundary of the cemetery looking at a nearby farm.

Here is the view standing under the trees by Mom’s gravesite looking out at her family farm which is the clump of trees in the middle of the picture on the horizon.

We headed off to our motel but first we drove past the old farmstead. All of the buildings are now torn down and the current owners have built all new buildings and a new house on the property. All that is left of my dear farm are the big pine trees in the left corner. How I used to love standing under those trees looking out over the rolling fields. Well, at least the farm is being maintained and not derelict.

Tomorrow we are off to Sioux Falls for a day of sightseeing and then on to visit a dear cousin and her family. It will seem very strange to be leaving Mom in Lismore.


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