Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Board Stuff – Not Bored Stuff

When Calleigh passed away we had her precious little body cremated. This decision was not made lightly and probably the most influential part of this conclusion was the fact that Justen was floating around in the Pacific Ocean somewhere around Central America at the time she died. We knew it would be a hardship for him and his ship-mates if he were to be air-lifted off the cutter and transported back to Nebraska in time for her memorial service so we opted to have her cremated and then have a burial of ashes service when he was able to take leave in April, 2011. With that thought we went through the process of picking out and purchasing a plot in our local cemetery in March. We called and met the couple from the cemetery board that gets together with families and walks around to help them make the purchase of the plots. I remember thinking “This is NOT something that a parent should have to do – pick out a cemetery plot for their child!”

Shortly after we made that purchase and had her burial on April 17th (Palm Sunday), I saw a flyer hanging on a bulletin board in the bank. The flyer was advertising the need for numerous individuals for several committees in our village. Then what should my wandering eyes read, TWO POSITIONS OPEN FOR THE CEMETERY BOARD! I knew right a way that this was something Corey and I should do. I knew that we would be spending quite a bit of time at the cemetery anyway, and who better to look after it and assure that it is well-kept than someone with a personal stake in its sacred ground? I mentioned it to Corey and he knew how important it would be for us to get involved in this, so he told me to make it happen. After a couple calls, a few forms to fill out, and a town board meeting where our acceptance had to get voted on – Corey and I became official members of the Rosewood Cemetery Board in Palmyra, NE.

A couple meetings later and it was election of officers night. Since we were the “new kids on the block” (literally and figuratively!) we had just been sitting back taking it all in… when all of a sudden I heard my name called to be the new secretary. Wait, what?

“Are there any other nominations. No. Ok, let’s vote. All in favor. Aye. Opposed. None.”
That was it. No discussions. I went from not even thinking about cemeteries, to buying a plot in the cemetery, to burying my daughter’s ashes in a cemetery, to getting on a cemetery board, to becoming the secretary of the cemetery board – all in a matter of a couple months!

When I became the new secretary I was given a HUGE book that had a bunch of “secretary stuff” in it. There was also quite a bit that had nothing to do with being the secretary, I just think it needed a home so they thought the huge secretary’s book would be the perfect habitat for all of the odds and ends. OK, so that brings me to last night… The president called and she was looking for a document that she knew she had someplace and thought it might be in my huge secretary’s book. (To be quite honest I hadn’t even looked at all of the papers in there except the few in the front that actually had to do with the couple of meetings we had since I took over the job.) She told me what she was looking for and I quickly leafed through the huge three ring binder. When I didn’t locate it right a way I promised her I’d look more carefully for it and get back to her. After all, my fajitas were in the skillet burning!

After supper my thoughts did not go back to my huge secretary’s book until I was ready to collapse in to my bed for the night. When I saw it sitting there I promised myself I would take the time to look through it as soon as I could the next day.

So Today… Wow, what a treasure is in that book! I had such a good time looking through the old papers, newspaper clippings, hand-written meeting notes. I enjoyed seeing the former members of the board (many who are deceased now) and reading about when the Palmyra’s Rosewood Cemetery was established:

The year was 1878. The new rail-road had been laid and the village of Palmyra moved so it could be right by the new railroad. (YES! They moved the whole town!) The former cemetery (known as Pioneers Cemetery) could now be found a couple miles south and one mile east of the new location of the village… So they did the logical thing - They made a new cemetery. Two different places were suggested and it was decided to go with the 10 acres that could be bought for $10 an acre on May 18th, 1878. The people that helped make this happen were given their pick of the “premium lots” and everyone was allowed to move their deceased relatives from the old cemetery to the new one if they chose to.

Mrs. Rebecca Eads was quoted when Rosewood Cemetery commenced (it’s unclear if she just said this or it’s actually printed at the cemetery):

“As you are now, so once was I,
Remember me as you pass by;
As I am now so you shall be,
Prepare for death and follow me.”

According to the records:

  • Anna Blanche Moore – 3 year old daughter of John O. & Mary Moore – was the first to be moved from the old cemetery to the new one.
  • Joseph Francis – 1 1/2 year old son of William & Luana Francis – was the first new burial in Rosewood Cemetery on July 6th, 1879.

That really got me thinking… mothers have endured the heartbreak of losing a child for centuries. Why, then, do people NOT talk about it? Why do people feel uncomfortable “bringing it up”? It’s not like this is new and uncharted territory. I long to hear Calleigh’s name spoken to me. I adore seeing it in writing. I love when people “bring it up”. I may have tears in my eyes while we talk about it, but I will love you forever! So many people do NOT bring it up fearing that they will stir up some suppressed feelings. Well, guess what? My feelings for my daughter are not suppressed, they are at the forefront of my thoughts all the time. Just as, I’m sure, all of your and my live children are. As a matter of fact when people that are suppose to be close to me don’t bring it up, I feel like I must not matter to them since someone so dear to me apparently doesn’t matter to them. (It is a vicious cycle – but completely normal for my ‘new normal’ I’ve been told!)

Later on in my Huge Secretary’s book it mentioned that several years later Rosewood Cemetery went in to a state of disrepair. Some of the plot owners took care of their own sites, but others did not and no one took care of the unassigned, empty plots. Mrs. Ramona Ogram took this matter in to her own hands and started a group of mothers that acted as the cemetery care-givers on April 17th, 1914.

She was quoted as saying, “It has well been said that a mother hears the call of her child long years after the little life may have ceased.”

What powerful words. I would venture to say that she probably has a little one buried in Palmyra’s Rosewood Cemetery, too. I can tell you, I certainly feel a special kin-ship with these women today, and I can definitely sympathize with their heartaches. And in the spring I plan on looking for Anna Moore and Joseph Francis’ stones at Palmyra’s Rosewood Cemetery!

Peace and Love to All!


  1. I love that quote -- I've seen it on various tombstones. It's so perfect. I'm glad that you've been finding gifts in your secretarial duties!

  2. I know exactly what you mean about mothers enduring this pain for centuries...then WHY is it taboo?!?!?! My feelings on this are that it's uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable because children don't die. I mean, no one wants to accept that it happens to kids, let alone babies. So, because other people are uncomfortable, we are made to feel hurt and lonely and even more uncomfortable because our precious babies are seemingly overlooked and forgotten. Ugh, it's just so unfair!

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