In Memory

One of the things I noticed when I moved from the west coast to the east was the vast difference in cemetery decoration. At the cemetery where many of my family members were laid to rest, there is a two-week-long window before and after Memorial Day when grave decorations are allowed. If you don’t collect them before the window closes, cemetery staff throw them away. This is to make mowing and lawn care easier, but it does make for a vast, gray landscape.

Cemeteries in the east, however, seem to embrace grave decorations, and some people go all out. This is one example, from a cemetery in Sagamore, Mass.


What do you think? Should people be allowed to memorialize their loved ones with flowers, statues and keepsakes, or should cemeteries be kept free of clutter?

Of hometowns and the people who make them great

During the process of our recent relocation, Hubby has said a few things about the community in which we’d spent the past 16 years that surprised me. He wanted to leave. He never wanted to come back. He didn’t like this place, and didn’t know any of the people. He’s “always wanted” to live on the east coast.

We’re talking about the place where I grew up – a place he’d lived for 16 years. A place where everyone should want to raise their children. This is the village of which Hillary spoke.

Yes, it’s rural. It’s a long way from anywhere. If you’re not interested in the high school (and middle school, and elementary school) sports and other activities, you’re not going to have a lot of entertainment. It’s a nearly 30-mile drive if you want to work outside the home (though in this community, “work outside” generally references farming). It’s your stereotypical “everyone knows everyone” kind of place, and many of the residents are related. Wives tend to stay home while their kids are young, then find a job once the last one enters school. A lot of the wives go to school and get a teaching degree, and work in the local school, or one that’s nearby. Family, community and church are very important to these people.

I was one of these people. I grew up here, and it’s where I chose to raise my daughter – close to family, friends and people who look out for each other. Hubby entered the picture after the Little Girl was in school, and he seemed happy enough chasing her from activity to activity. But LG grew up, and moved out (mostly), and it was just the two of us. Coming home from work in the evenings and, if there was a game/activity (wedding, graduation, birthday party), I’d head out alone while he sat at home, playing World of Warcraft. We both wanted something different. I wanted to spend more time together, and he wanted the ability to see and do more things. He was “over” small-town living.

Thus, we found ourselves uprooting and moving across the country to a town where we knew no one, I had no job, and, frankly, there was nothing to do. So, I’d spend the day on the computer, looking for jobs, and applying for the very few that were out there. He’d head off to work and come home to find me in the throes of dinner-making. He’d sit at his computer, I’d serve dinner, then we’d both sit in front of a television with a computer on our laps. We’d moved across the country to do the exact same things we’d done before (except now I had no reason to leave the house, pretty much ever). Even if there had been things to do in Upstate New York, with me unemployed, we couldn’t afford to do them.

Five months later, we uprooted again (two boxes were still packed! Woot!), this time to Boston. Again, me at home, on the computer looking for jobs; him coming home from work to find dinner prep well in hand. We began taking walks in the evenings, and Hubby broke out the trusty old camera skills he’d mothballed several years before. I found a job which financially enables us to attend an event now and again. For the most part, though, we still have no local friends, and after our walks, we sit in front of the television with our computers in our laps. Aside from a couple baseball games and a foray to Boston Garden (yes, youngster, I know it has a corporate name now), we haven’t been to any events or activities we couldn’t have done at home.

This didn’t start out to be a rant about being dragged, kicking and screaming, from everyone and everything I know and love to a place where people talk funny and seem stunned that after four months, you haven’t decided this place is the BEST PLACE EVER AND I’M NEVER LEAVING. It was intended to talk about the community we’ve left behind, and the people who make it great.

A couple weeks ago, a fundraiser was held in my hometown’s school cafeteria for a young couple who are expecting a baby. The baby needs a lot of medical care, so the family will need to travel quite a distance prior to baby’s arrival, so the little one can be rushed into surgery immediately upon birth. This is not a rich family. It’s not a rich community. I don’t know how many people came to the fundraiser. What I do know is that in a community of fewer than 500 people, a fundraiser was held which raised more than $11,000 to help a young couple with their upcoming medical bills. I have no idea how much those bills will amount to once it’s all said and done, but I do know these two things: $11,000 will help these kids more than any of us can fathom, and this is the sort of community it is incredibly tough to leave.