Posted by: Lisa | October 15, 2010

Cemetery Reflection

Over Labor Day weekend, I visited Monongah, WV – site of the 1907 coal mining explosion that killed hundreds of men and boys, including my own great-grandfather.  I visited the heart of the town, the Catholic church and the cemetery where the Italian and Polish immigrant miners were buried.  The following is an excerpt from my journal entry:

It’s quiet and peaceful in the cemetery– unlike the day of the explosion when the earth shook, when women and children roamed the streets sobbing.  The slope of the steep hill faces east.  It’s like the men – and everyone else buried there – are reclining and watching the sun rise.  It’s quiet, yet there are houses right across the street (where the dead are facing).  You can sometimes hear people talking and laughing.  Cars drive by occasionally.  Life goes on.  The dead watch over the living.

The geese really got to me.  I also saw them when I was in the heart of the town looking at the heroine statue and the bell from Italy.  They flew over in V formation.  At the cemetery, two men examined my unusual little car while I sat at the monument right across the street.  The old man said to the other guy, “Did you see the geese?”  As he said that, another small flock took flight from the back of the cemetery and flew overhead.  I didn’t even know they were there.  I sobbed.  So beautiful!  Crazy – but I thought the souls buried there were thanking me for remembering them and traveling all that distance to visit them.  I sat facing the Italian section of the cemetery.  I knew my great-grandfather was out there somewhere – without a stone marking his grave.  I wondered what he thought of me.  He and his generation suffered so much for me and all their descendants.  We must do our very best to love and serve our fellow human beings in this life we’ve been given.  He did the work he did so I can have the life I have.

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