As the self-appointed genealogy nut of the family, I’m always looking for the photo I’ve never seen, the burial plot in an obscure small town, or the story of a relative I’d never heard before. To that end, I am also a volunteer photographer for the online site Find a Grave.com. I take photos of gravestones and, if needed, will create a new memorial for someone where none existed. Sounds like a grim way to spend an afternoon, but I don’t find the final resting place of people’s physical remains all that creepy or scary. Cemeteries are actually, to me, very peaceful, beautiful places.
The photo at the top right is one of my maternal grandparents, Ed and Clara Boxleitner. The photo at the top left is that of my children, Katie and Stephanie, at their grave in Northern Illinois. I try and visit their grave whenever I am in the area (a 5 hour drive from my current residence in St. Louis, MO), but it’s not always possible. I took my girls that day as well, so they could see where their great-grandparents were buried and to also visit my ex-husband’s relatives buried at the same cemetery. My children are no stranger to funerals, as I’ve made it a point to take them from the time they were babies. I, personally, didn’t attend the funeral of a relative (my grandfather, Ed) until I was 28 years old. I had never seen anyone I loved DEAD, and I about came unglued. I never wanted them to feel that way.
I have folks in my family that do not believe that death is final, as they are attuned to the souls of the departed. My niece, Summer, has the strongest gift of the family, interacting with the Spirits quite often. I don’t wish to think that we have only one go-around, and that when our body dies, that’s it. Finále. I don’t really relish the idea of being a ghost like in Beetlejuice, haunting my home and driving folks away, but I hope I am still there for people like my Summer to interact with. This can’t be all there is.