Traveling back from Florida, my lovely wife and I made a side trip to the Mid Hudson Valley area. That’s where my wife grew up, but we didn’t stop to visit any friends or relatives -no living ones anyway.
We stopped at the cemetery to pay our respects. The only close relatives that are still in the area are the ones who aren’t going anywhere. My wife’s family is scattered all over the world. The younger ones left for different opportunities. The older retired ones left to avoid high taxes.
Our first stop is always at my brother-in-law’s grave. He was still a teenager when he died in a boating accident. The guy was just then starting to grow into an interesting adult. I think I would have liked the man he was becoming. His gravestone shows a backpacker on a mountain top gazing at distance peaks and clouds. It was a sketch he’d done just before the accident. I’m glad it’s on his stone.
Then we visit the rest of those left behind: grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, classmates, and so on. My in-laws have a stone there too, but fortunately the death dates are still unwritten.
My wife knows her way around that marble orchard. I wonder if our kids will ever take the time to visit the graves. Will the grandkids feel enough connection to their past to want to stand there under the shade trees near the pond? Will they contemplate lives lived and then ended?
Will they wonder about the young man who sketched the backpacker?