My mother tells me that when she was a little girl on “Decoration Day” it was the tradition for families in their community to go to the local cemetery to freshen up the graves of their loved ones.
I have always been fascinated by cemeteries, especially old ones. It is interesting to me to read the memorial stones and think about those who have gone before.
A few years ago when I was visiting the community where my mother grew up, a few of us went out to the cemetery. As we stepped carefully between the headstones, kicking up the dry Oklahoma dust, and watching for rattlesnakes, Granddaddy pointed out various graves and shared memories of friends and family members. We stopped by the graves of my Easley and Shumaker great-grandparents.
Grandmother wasn’t with us that day but what Granddaddy said as we stood looking at her parents’ graves made an impression on me:
“They were the best in-laws a man could ever hope for.”
I remember my great-grand Mother Shumaker. That’s what we called her. Mother Shumaker. I was 16 when she died. She was the epitome of a loving and hospitable grandma. She loved having company and visiting with her neighbors.
As sweet as her personality was, I’ve come to realize that didn’t happen by accident.
As Paul Harvey used to say, “This is the rest of the story.”
Several years ago I discovered the online virtual cemetery at findagrave.com. I have appreciated being able to add photos of some of my ancestors’ graves to my personal database. Perhaps my favorite headstone in my family’s lineage belongs to Mother Shumaker’s grandmother who was born 170 years ago.
Great-great-great Grandmother, Lucinda Bock, was born in 1847 and died in 1929.
Her headstone lists her name, dates of birth and death, age, and then the simple inscription:
SHE PRAYED FOR HER CHILDREN.
I love that. No one alive ever knew her personally, yet I have to believe that her prayers for her children have continued on down through the generations.
The young matron in the plaid dress in this four-generation picture with Great-great-great-Grandmother Bock is Mother Shumaker. The sweet little tyke in the frilly bonnet? That’s my very own Grandmother.
Years and years later, I was one of the children being prayed for. Grandmother Bock and her daughter, Mama ‘Berry, were gone by the time I came along. But I feel like their prayers are being carried forward.
I expect Mother Shumaker prayed for me… and I know for sure that Grandmother did. I’ve heard her many times.
I took that for granted as a child.
I don’t any more.
I’m doing my best to carry on perhaps the most important family tradition ever: praying for my children.