Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Graveyard Shift

My paternal grandparents owned a huge farm (100 or so acres) in the mountains of North Carolina. My father and his five brothers and sisters all had a hand in helping to tend the crops grown and animals raised. While visiting during the summer I always loved being a part of farm life and hearing my dad's stories about growing up there. But I was always most excited to sneak off and visit a quiet place set back on the edge of my Paw Paw Pipe's land - our family graveyard.

Plots of hand-dug graves dating back to the turn of the century, all marked with modest, hand-carved headstones, worn smooth from years of ice, wind and rain, sit in silent little rows at the rise of the valley. The cemetery is maybe a half acre of land, fenced in so the cattle won't trample it flat. From it's lowest point you are surrounded by a humbling view of the Blue Ridge mountains. It's where my great grandparents, grandparents, two aunts who died as children (which always fascinated me growing up) and my father are buried.

My cousins (most of whom are pictured to the right) and I went up there a lot just to play or hang out. One time when I was six or seven we went up to the graveyard, stayed too long and it got dark. We weren't scared, but our lengthy absence absolutely scared our parents, who must have thought a bear had eaten all of us. My father, my uncle Jack and some other "men folk" came looking the Williams gaggle of kids on the back side of the property and eventually found us playing in the graveyard. Everyone got to ride back to the house in the pickup truck - except me. My father decided to walk me back home, in the dark, with a switch (all you southern kids know what that is) in one hand and a flashlight for himself in the other, all the while enduring my cries as I crawled under and over the barbed wire fences that were way more fun to manipulate just three hours prior. To this day, I'm not really sure which one of us got the worst punishment that night.

While driving home at 2 a.m., with a load of cement in the back of a borrowed Land Rover somehow reminded me of the cemetery. Maybe it was all the expressionless statues staring back at me in the review mirror? Maybe it was the late hour? In any case, Amy and I enjoyed an evening of fellowship and fundraising planning at Patti's house a couple of weeks ago while picking up several greyhound statues for those SEGA members who live in South Georgia.

These statues are a part of a fundraiser we do annually. They are a huge hit among our members, but can be a huge back ache to get delivered since Fed Ex does not ship giant blocks of cement. Part of the purchase price goes toward the rental of a U-Haul and gas to drive to the cement yard. This year our haul weighed more than 4,000 lbs! Despite some sore volunteer backs and some creative packing of vehicles as people picked up their new concrete tributes to their fur babies, SEGA made awesome money.

So, I purchased one statue for our home. I'm not sure what I will do with it yet. Maybe it will sit next to our pool? Maybe it will guard our front door? Or maybe I will leave a special request that one just like it be created for my place in our family graveyard in North Carolina. Certainly I can't be without a greyhound by my side for all eternity.


Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

I love all your childhood stories...and of course the future ones too.
Seka and Roxy look mighty comfortable on that couch!

I wish I had bought a statue now:-(

Amy said...

What a wonderful place that must have been to visit as a child and even still as an adult. I knew you had some mountain blood in you - you are much too interesting to be from very flat middle GA!
Thanks for the great story :)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I love the childhood stories too. Denise, I'm sure they will sell the statues again.

pattysea said...

Loved the story; ROOTS!!!
The granddogs look pretty darn comfy on that couch!!! I think the statues are just great!!! I'm sure greyhound lovers will find a place for one.

IHateToast said...

reading a fun little mystery that must be set on your property.

love your answer to the terra cotta soldiers.