12/01/2012

Circling

Neil Gaiman won the Newberry Prize for The Graveyard Book. I read it, loved it and have it on my bookshelf. Let me tell you what led me to read it. One afternoon when Jim and I were driving back from PA we listened to a fascinating NPR interview with author Neil Gaiman. He was talking about his new book, The Graveyard Book. Gaiman told about taking his small child to a near-by graveyard to play twenty years ago and how, watching his youngster, the germ of the idea of a child being raised in a graveyard began to jell. Nobody Owens or Bod is the boy in this book who is raised by a community of ghosts. I had to get the book into my hands as quickly as possible. It reminded me of Mama. Mama told me from my earliest memory that she was “raised in Elmwood Cometary.”
Mama’s daddy died when she was about 18 months old. Granny was devastated. Everyday she took Mama with her when she drove to Elmwood, parked at the grave and sat with Gus Keasler – every day for eight year.
As Mama got older she was more and more restless on these long visits and Granny let her get out of the car. Mama had the run of the marble garden. She climbed over the statuary and eventually read the tombstones. She knew where everyone was buried. She could lead you right to anyone that she or Granny had known. She could tell you about them.
When Mama was about 90 years old our son Jim and his family went to Charlotte to visit her. She asked him to drive her out to Elmwood for a visit. Once they were parked she led them through the grounds, telling stories, introducing them to all the family. When I mentioned it to her she said – ” Of course I could do that. I was raised in Elmwood Cemetery.” When reading Gaiman’s book I enjoyed and admired the language, the images, and I liked the characters in the ghostly community. And, I thought of my mother and her relationship with all her ghosts. I have that too. At age 92 My mother died late in the afternoon on a Thursday.
The next morning Jim and I drove through the black wrought iron gates at Elmwood Cemetary. I stopped at Gus Keasler’s grave, now with my grandmother beside him, and I felt comforted. Years have passed and these days--- On Wednesdays I wave my pass for the guards to see as I drive through the black wrought iron gates of Arlington National Cemetary
, they smile and wave back.
Minutes later I park near Jim's resting place near the Tomb of the Unknowns. People say "why do you go there every week?" I go, as my grandmother did, because I feel comforted. Life is a circle.

1 comment:

storytellermary said...

Beautiful comfort in memories -- and Gaiiman's lovely book as well. Hugs to you, Ellouise <3