Today was Memorial at Bourland Cemetery. What that means for y'all what ain't got enough culture to understand is in some small rural communities - like the one I was raised & now currently live in - not every church has a cemetery attached to it & not every cemetery is attached to a church. That's what Bourland is. It's about two, two-&-a-half acre cemetery about a mile-&-a-half from the house where most of my mother's family that's in a cemetery is buried. Both Momma's parents, my father, my uncles & aunts that have gone on, in-laws & extended family. If I recall, the oldest readable grave goes back to the 1840s. I have a space there Momma will put what's left of me - I've told her to donate what can be donated - in a nice, shady spot right next to my folks.
What Memorial is, once a year people with family in the cemetery gather for a preaching &, as often as not, what's called "dinner on the ground". Everyone brings a dish or some sweet tea or maybe some fried chicken, & they eat. They also raise money for the upkeep of the cemetery, & there's a couple old, old cemeteries nearby that no one takes care of.
In some places it's called Decoration Day, & my friends the Drive-By Truckers put out an excellent song by that title on the 2003 self-titled album. It was also an early name for Memorial Day, particularly geared towards Confederate dead, but this has nothing to do with any of that.
I didn't go. Partly I didn't go because I don't do crowds, partly I didn't go because I don't do preaching, partly I didn't go because it was too goddamn hot, but mainly I didn't go because I'd simply rather stay home & commune with the front yard. Two hours' guaranteed solitude a week, damn if I'm going to pass that up. So, I went earlier this morning & talked to Daddy, & Mommaw, & Uncle Charles & Aunt Shirley & all the rest, pondered my own mortality, helped the kids taking donations help an older gentleman set up some chairs & a table, & went on back home.
I find cemeteries melancholy, which I guess most people do, but there's a certain comfort to this place. I'm a stone-cold materialist & hold no truck with any sort of concept of "soul", much less the transmigration thereof, but I must admit it is nice to know I'll have a pleasant, shady spot werein to do my decomposing once the time comes. Not everyone can say that, & it is something.