These are random musings of my life journey, the people, animals, places, and events which have woven, and continue to weave, a tapestry that is me. We all know there is no real destination, only the ongoing experiences which blend together, creating the trail. Each step gives a glimpse of what is to come, without allowing me to see the end result. It is exciting. I have a home base that is mine, that gives me a place to rest. This is it. This is where my heart is, no matter where I journey...................

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Busy, busy

After staying up till wee hours to catch the lunar eclipse, I was exhausted. It was nearly 3 AM when I gave up and went to bed, but while I was tired, I was also jacked up by hanging in the cold off and on for several hours and the general excitement. It took me a while to fall asleep, and the last time I saw the clock was around 3:45.

I woke around 7:30, believe it or not. But I couldn't roll over and sleep. I had to get up and get going. I was due for an oil change in Alamogordo, a drive of nearly 1.5 hours. So I tossed back some coffee, showered, fed the pups and myself and hit the road.

The oil was changed and while I waited, chatted with a woman from Ruidoso. She had her little dog with her, a rescue cutie named Abby. I also called my cousin to confirm lunch, but she had a couple appointments that negated us getting together. I was glad for her, though. A realtor needs every possible appointment to culminate  into a sale. I got lunch myself and set off  for the cemetery.

The attendant at the cemetery pulled out several loose-leaf notebooks containing old burial records. I was disappointed that the records were not computerized or in some way organized into more searchable formats. I suspect this is the rule of thumb, however. I doubt many officials see this, the records of the dead, as being nearly as important as the records of the living. You know, the living who pay taxes and other money to pay their salaries. Oh, well.

Two of the names on my list were simply nowhere to be found. I even went into my creative mode, looking at variations of the spelling, watching for dates that matched, etc. Robert, the man on duty, was wonderful in helping me in every way, including taking the same books and looking where I'd already looked. Then, when I decided there wasn't any likelihood that  I'd find those two graves, he got out a map and pointed out the sections I needed to look in and the approximate areas. The map was tiny and very difficult to read, so much of it was "by guess and by gosh." he had a couple larger maps on the wall, so working back and forth between those and the tiny one I was taking with me, I was able to reasonably locate the general areas to look.

I walked on full section without success, then realized I was in the wrong section! Duh. Robert came out in an ATV just about the time I realized that, and he confirmed I was one block off my target. He also walked a couple sections with me to find graves with last names that matched my two missing people, just in case they were family members and there was some sort of glitch in the record keeping. While doing this, he told me that a flood in the 1950s destroyed many of the records and when there is no headstone, that person, that grave and all information, is just lost. So sad. I wondered how many people were there without anyone knowing. One of the missing names on my list was buried there in 1930; he is quite possibly there, unmarked, unknown.  I guess I realized the importance of the grave markers more than ever during this exercise. As Robert said, if there is not a marker, paper records are minimally helpful, because fire or flood can take away every trace of that person in a matter of minutes. Sobering, isn't it? Newer records are being kept in a more organized fashion, but he says most of his requests for information involve the older ones, the disorganized ones. He laments not having a computer to help him with his job.

I took pictures of the grave markers that we had located, then over to a familiar corner of the cemetery for me where I photographed the markers of my husband's family. With that, my task at the cemetery was done, and I headed home. It was a little warm, around 70°, and my last hour or more had been spent in the sun. I was, unfortunately, wearing a black shirt which just soaked up the heat of the sun, and I was hot and dry. I guzzled a bottle of water, but I needed something else, so I stopped at Sonic for a drink, then headed home.

Last night I loaded the photos of the graves into the Find a Grave website, putting each in the memorial page for that individual.  I've already received thank you notes from three of the people who requested these photos. How cool! I didn't expect acknowledgment, and didn't need, it, but it feels good to know those folks have already seen the photos and it has helped them with their searches for information. I even heard from one of the people connected with a grave I couldn't find. She said she has talked to several family members who were at the graveside at the burial in 1970, but since no marker was ever placed, she realized that it would be a difficult task. She was hoping for at least some documentation of the death, but even that was not available. It really makes you wonder, doesn't it?

It was an interesting day. I've clearly gotten myself into quite a challenging volunteer job! It's OK. I'm happy to help others with these tasks. That's what life is all about, isn't it?

I was really tired last night. I got a good night's sleep, but I'm thinking I need a couple more good nights of sleep to really feel myself again.

OK, I'm off to slay another dragon.  Er, make that clean my house and begin preparation for having a few friends here on Christmas Day.   Dragon, housework .... you see the connection, don't you?

Later!

8 comments:

  1. I have expressed my desire to be cremated and my ashes scattered.

    My mother died five years ago. I have never been to her grave.

    I sometimes wonder if there is something missing in my senses. I don't have any "feelings" about the piece of ground the dead buried in.

    Whatever they were is long gone.

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  2. I agree with you on cremation and on attachment to the piece of dirt. There is no sentimental attachment for me.

    In this situation, however, for tracing one's roots, it is tough to be looking for verification of an ancestor's information and being unable to find it. It's too bad there isn't a better system of tracking those informational pieces, you know?

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  3. I'm all for cremation. We had mom cremated per her request and Jake and I both want to be cremated. I don't like the thought of all that wasted land space.
    My cousin also finds graves and maps them out Lyn. She loves doing it but says that it is time consuming. I've told her how much I love wandering cemeteries,well when I could walk, and would have enjoyed doing that.
    Hope you catch up on some rest before Christmas! Love Di ♥

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  4. What a fascinating story of your day, and how envious I felt of you getting too hot! I wonder if there is scope for volunteers to input grave/cemetery information into computer programmes. I would find it reasonably easy to do some of that from home - perhaps with copy paper records..... Hope the housework went well, my turn for that tomorrow.

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  5. Di, It certainly can be time consuming. Given the state of record keeping that I encountered, I can imagine it would be quite frustrating to try to locate the graves and map them. This guys maps were pretty good considering the records he had.
    And I'm having a fairly lazy day. Doing housework a little at a time, and not pushing myself much .... er, at all!

    Freda, I suspect there might be some things like that to do. Perhaps you could couple with someone who does the leg work and you do computer input at home. If any of the cemeteries are as poorly recorded as this one, you might be able to volunteer to computerize their records. Just some thoughts. :)

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  6. It is so busy here too... sometimes I think my head is going to spin around LOL

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  7. Aren't you good. That sounds like a great of trouble what you're doing. i think appreciation is no more than you deserve.

    Have a lovely Christmas, never mind if the house isn't spick and span, it's the kind heart and hospitality that count.

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  8. Lisa, watch that spinning head! It does not help!! ;D

    Friko, I don't worry a lot about the house. My friends are laid-back and fun. It's all good! Thanks!

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If you have something to say about it, just stick out your thumb, and I'll slow down so you can hop aboard! But hang on, 'cause I'm movin' on down the road!!! No time to waste!!!