Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Death Washes the Past



This was Janie C.--she traveled to Oregon in a covered wagon, hated it, came home. So I have been told.


It is said that death bestows gifts upon all.  I won’t try to name them, but the one I like is: Death washes the past and gives sanctity to the dead.

Julia, Nora, Bessie, and ?

At least, so I thought.  Recently I visited my favorite and remaining Aunt Vada in Macon, Missouri.  It was the first week of October, with all the beauty of fall giving glimpses of what colors were to come.  We visited non-stop, words filling the air.  Aunt Vada is a gifted writer, with a way of placing words exactly where they need to be. 
James W. Shive, died at age 3 years, 3 months, and 16 days.

One of our days involved traveling to my mother’s hometown, across the Mississippi River into Pike County, Illinois. 

We visited Crescent Heights Cemetery high on the bluffs in Pleasant Hill, IL, where Mom’s parents and relatives were buried.  Each time I have been there, I vowed that this place has the most incredible view of any cemetery.  

It is also the only place I can get cell phone coverage in the whole of Pike County.

We stood silently over Grandma and Grandpa’s graves, and then examined a family pillar on which Grandma’s side of the family were recorded.  I have seen that thing hundreds of times over my life there, but I never knew.  I never knew the stories that Aunt Vada shared with me.

My grandparents

Oh. Really?  No, not back then…  Those were my words and reactions as she touched each name and told the highlights of some very rowdy, randy, and raunchy ancestors. 
Martin Van Buren Shive, patriarch with the names of his children carved on all sides of the monument.  Lots of children.

Moonshiners, fornicators, adulterers, underhanded politicians, swindlers—they broke every sin listed in the Bible. 

I tell you, check out your ancestors while you still have relatives who know the whole story about them.  And, it might be a good idea to look at your own life, since someday you’ll be the ancestor about whom stories will be told. 

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like you do have quite the bunch of ancestors, they just liked to have fun haha And only place for cell phone coverage? Geez, town needs an upgrade.

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    1. Cell phone coverage in this area is spotty at best, and the cemetery is an ideal spot for many activities I have been told.

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  2. Yep....let's give them somethin' to talk about....

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    1. I am afraid that I was a very good girl all my life. Responsible and kind. Maybe it is time for a change.

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  3. Oh, I did. And in the last A to Z Challenge, I wrote about it. R is for Roots. In 2001, my cousin and I went to SW Sweden looking for our roots and what we found was precious. I strongly recommend doing this.

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    1. How wonderful! Sometime, you will have to post some of the stories you discovered.

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  4. I wonder who knows the whole story. There are facts we take to the grave, intentionally and unintentionally.

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    1. Only God knows, and He isn't about to open that can of worms. We have enough cans around these days and lots of can openers.

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  5. I certainly don't know a fraction of the stories belonging even to my most immediate relatives. Grandparents? Shrouded in mystery on both sides. You have me thinking though (smiling the while) about just what stories of my own life I would like to be told and, how I can ensure it.

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    1. I know much of your family stories were lost in WW II. Do some incredible things (swimming near Antarctica counts!) and write a book about them all.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!