Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lafayette: Take Two

What wasn't done correctly can always be revisited for a second attempt. That's what we told ourselves when we arrived last Friday at St. Mary's Cemetery in Lafayette, Indiana, after the cemetery office closed.

"Oh, we can find it," we told ourselves when faced with locating great-great-grandfather John Stevens' grave site. The marker was distinct--at least, that's what we thought, until we discovered that everyone else from that era must have decided to go in for the latest look in headstones, too. Driving in what seemed like interminable circles around each section of the cemetery, we failed in our mission to follow our noses.

We'd be back this way, we knew, and promised to e-mail the cemetery manager for a refresher course in locating our family's plot. Notwithstanding best-laid plans, we have yet to hear back from the fearless leader whom we had hoped would save our day. And today, we are heading back to Chicago, either bypassing Lafayette, or hoping to be saved by a last minute e-mail, retrieved by trusty i-phone or 'droid in the nick of time.

And if we miss out? Well, trips back east are not easy to come by. This sort of journey may have to be saved for another year. But oh, how I wish we could add our two cents worth to the photos on Find-A-Grave (and recognize our own ancestors in the process) with this leg of the journey.

In the meantime, we have spent time in Columbus, Ohio, with living relatives. Though they are wracked with the ravages of time and age, our elders are happy to see us, as we are to see them. Once again, who knows how soon our travels will bring us back this way--more specifically, who knows whether we'll have this opportunity again. Perhaps Time will once again get the best of us.

And for those Time has already caught up with, we've had some fresh grave sites to visit, too--some still awaiting the commemorative markers that will declare to future generations our concern for their memory. While it seems odd to call those spots part of a genealogy--the memory is too new; how can these be considered along with our "ancestors"?--that is, indeed, what their place markers become in this long march of Time. They, too, are worthy of remembrance. Perhaps, if we don't exercise our research abilities to commemorate them through our narratives, there will be someone several generations hence who will wonder about our parents the same way we wonder about our parents' great-greats.

These, too, are memories we can't let slip away.

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