While we were at my family home in Alabama for Thanksgiving, my husband and I went to see my father's grave, since it was the first time we'd been home since my mother had the tombstone put up.
Dad died of complications of lung cancer in 2005. I miss him, and I hope I have even a tiny fraction of his intelligence, his lifelong curiosity about the world, his compassion, and his integrity. I want to dedicate the first book I sell to his memory, and I'll always regret that I didn't become published while he lived. I would have liked to have given him an autographed copy of a book with my name on the cover.
He's buried in the cemetery of the church we attended when I was little, a church founded circa 1820 when that part of Alabama was settled, and that my ancestors had attended since the first Stones moved into the area from South Carolina in the 1840's. As a child I used to chase fireflies through that cemetery--only I called them lightning bugs then--after Sunday evening services and Wednesday night prayer meetings. I didn't appreciate then just how much history, my history, was there.
At Thanksgiving Dylan and I spent nearly two hours walking from grave to grave as I did my best to remember as much family and community history as I could. Dylan had his camera, and some of the pictures he took are here. At a guess, I'm probably some kind of kin to at least half the people buried there. It's a rural area, with a handful of large families who intermarried.
It was moving to walk through my own history, all those ancestors and cousins of mine asleep in the central Alabama red clay. Veterans of the Civil War and both world wars, so many tiny graves of little children from well into the 20th century, broken remnants of 19th century tombstones leaving only a few tantalizing clues about the lives and deaths they mark.
There are stories there that need to be told. I hope someday my muse will show me the way to tell them.