I love history, and the paranormal has always fascinated me. I suppose that’s why I write both paranormal and historical romance. And perhaps, that explains my love of cemeteries. Or maybe I like cemeteries because as I child, I attended a country church with an old cemetery on the grounds.
After Wednesday night services, my siblings, cousins and some of our friends would play hide and seek in the graveyard. Playing the game among the graves never struck us as disrespectful. Just spooky. And fun. And on Sundays we’d often walk through the graves reading the names.
My father’s sister is buried in that graveyard. She died when she was less than three months old. I remember looking at that concrete lamb on top of that tiny grave wondering what her life would have been like had she lived.
Would I have been blessed with more girl cousins? I sure could have used more! But that graveyard wasn’t the only one I visited as a child.
Growing up, my family used to visit Fredericksburg, Virginia quite often. I have family there and my parents used to take us to visit. While there, we’d take side trips to battlefields and grave yards or spend a day at Belvedere Beach. And sometimes, I think I loved the visits to the graveyards and historical sites as much as I enjoyed my time spent on the beach.
My great uncle’s home has a family plot in the front yard. The home now belongs to my cousin and I never visit John without going into the grave yard and taking a look around.
Lucky for me, I married a man who loves history as much as I do. And we often took our children to visit museums and historical sites when they were younger. Neither daughter fears graveyards, but I’m not sure they have the same love of them that I do.
But my love of spooky old graveyards must be a family trait. I recently spent an afternoon with my brother and his family visiting the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, NC.
The graveyard is on Anne Street next to a church. There are Southern live oak trees that grow inside the cemetery gates. They’re old and gnarled and provide beauty and shade to the peaceful cemetery. Inside those iron gates beneath a canopy of leaves, rest the souls of soldiers from The Revolution to the Civil War. There are also graves of small children. Too many children.
Sadly, the infant mortality rate in the late 1800’s was 20 to 35% and it was probably closer to 40% in the 18th century.
Adults weren’t immune to the higher mortality rates either. A young minster buried in the church grave yard was only twenty-three at the time of his demise.
There is also the grave of a sea captain and a British Naval officer in the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort. The sea captain is buried beneath his cannon.
And the naval officer was buried standing up, forever saluting his monarch.
I spent over an hour in that cemetery with my brother and his family.And when I left, I realized I don’t need a monument commemorating my life when I die. I have family who will remember me and children who will take a part of me with them into the next generation.
Visiting graveyards reminds me that life goes on long after we leave this mortal plane.