Native Writes: My peaceful place


I was gratified to see that there will be a new office – with restrooms – at the Alamosa Cemetery.

That’s one part of me. The other wonders about the fate of the old house it replaces.

It was my very first residence on this planet, after my parents took me home from the hospital. There are many photos to prove this.

I still find peace and tranquility visiting the cemetery, though it has grown so much since the folks moved elsewhere when I was 3.

One of my first memories is being dragged by one arm away from one of the graves. There was a goldfish pond there and a very sweet lady who met me there, to talk and sing. My mother didn’t buy my explanation and, from then until I was in my late adolescence, lectured me about “imaginary friends.”

I have visited the grave many times since then, but the little pond is gone and so is the lady. In this time of national anxiety, I would welcome her peace.

Sometimes, I just drive out to the cemetery and drive around. I walk fascinated through the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) plot, realizing those veterans began many of the veterans’ efforts and organizations we have today.

Truthfully, I hadn’t been in the old house until I went to arrange a burial. I looked around. It seemed small and I was drawn to the old fireplace, constructed of mossy rocks.

Memories find a home in the tiniest crevices of the brain, choosing to emerge unexpectedly from time to time.

I also hope no one has thrown away the boxes stored above the garage, placed there by the family of prominent resident Milton K. Herrick and left over from the stock at Herrick and Olson, a men’s clothing store back when men wore spats and long chains and fobs on their pocket watches. I had some shoes retrieved from the store’s closing, but house fires have done away with them.

I knew Mr. Herrick and his wife well. Along with his business operations, he was fire chief and his wife stayed at home. Suffering from “empty nest syndrome,” she invited me to bake cookies with her once or twice a month.

They are in the cemetery, resting forever in modestly marked graves. Lying in death as they did in life, modestly and peacefully.

The only “famous person” listed by online grave search sites is former Gov. William “Billy” Adams. He, too, rests quietly and modestly.

While many graves are bedecked with ribbons, bows, pinwheels and flowers, theirs are often forgotten.

I long ago stopped decorating graves in the belief that the dead can’t smell the flowers and the living often take note of how elaborate the decorations are. If someone can’t send me flowers and honor me while I’m alive, there’s no reason to do so when I can’t truly appreciate the gestures. But that’s just me.

Veterans Day will bring flags and flowers for those who served; Memorial Day brings honors at their graves and other departed loved ones.

I visit graves and think of the people in eternal rest who have been important to my mortal life and, from time to time, I think of the places they called home.

In my dotage, I do all this in the realization that death is inevitable for us all. Dignity and honor don’t come as easily.