19 October 2009

V goes to the cemetery

I have always been a sentimental girl. Growing up, my dad told me all kinds of stories of my grandfather, how he lived, how he died. He told me of his grandparents, his uncles and aunts, almost all of whom died long before I was born. Those were the best stories: to me, someone who's blood I shared was a much more fascinating topic than anything Disney ever produced.

But V is not me. She loves Disney more than I'd like. She thinks Hannah Montana is cool, and iCarly is even cooler. She listens to my stories about her grandfather, and my grandparents, and my uncles, almost all of whom died before she was born, patiently, but I can see her four year old brain doesn't see why I'm rambling on so. Which is okay. I'm glad she listens. But I would love for her to feel a connection to these ancestors, whose stories I memorized years and years ago.
A few weeks ago, I took her out to the cemetery where most of these people are buried. We walked among the graves where I played as a child, and I told her who each of these people were, and how she was related to them, and other things I could think of. For the first time, she seemed truly interested. Above, Emilie Dyrendahl, V's great-great grandmother. Died 194?.The stone is sunken too far, now, to read. My father's mother's mother, she came here from Norway, raised identical twins and three other children. A woman dead 60 years before V was born. It breaks my brain.Here, on my father's grave. She's been here before, and last Memorial Day, she and Will danced all around this stone, which I think he would've liked a lot.
After the direct family members, I showed her great-aunts and distant cousins; sisters Alma and Julia, whom I cared for in the nursing home, and my friend Caroline, who was one of the funniest people I've ever known.

When we got to Patti Ann, my aunt Beverly's second daughter, who lived for three and half weeks in 1956, I told V about her. I said, "You know your Great Aunt Bev? She had five babies in her life. But Patti Ann died before she was a month old."

V said, "Why?"

"She had an enlarged heart, and it was a long time ago, and doctors didn't know how to fix her. She was very little."

"Oh." Then V knelt down on top of the grave, and spread her arms wide.

"What're you doing?" I asked. I'm not a stickler for cemetery decorum, but this seemed to be a little much, and I didn't want V to think she could be disrespectful here.

"I'm hugging her, so she won't be lonely," V said.

I couldn't help it. I cried.

Then she leapt up, grabbed my hand, and we walked to the car.


Megan said...

Oh dear. I just misted up a bit, too. Sweet little thing, isn't she? And isn't it stunning how much they truly understand?

Jess said...

this shows how much she is her mother's daughter. I love the picture of her with the loons. Love you,