Tag Archives: Cemeteries

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Dead People

26 Apr

Disgruntler Alert: the following post contains little-to-no snarkiness, offensive opinions or crude observations. We will return to standard programming when we damn well feel like it.

After a fruitless morning search underscored by a complete lack of planning, I now found myself waist-high in blackberry bushes, breathlessly close to a discovery.  The brambles clutched desperately at my clothes, as if to intentionally delay me in my quest;  Nature Always Finds A Way, I thought to myself.  This tangle of thorns had made short work of overtaking the graveyard, and now turned its attention toward the unexpected human invaders, reminding us that they – the bushes, the earth – would ultimately have the last word.  At least I was wearing my motorcycle boots.

As much as I’d like to say the stone marker beckoned to me in some way, that it was psychically calling out “Over here!” with cinematic flair, in reality, it was simply the last accessible gravestone left in the plot, and I was going to be bummed if it didn’t pan out.  I tried to fabricate some sort of meaning from the ominous, foot-swallowing critter hole directly beside the marker, as if this hole was a clear sign that This Stone Must Be It.   But the agnostic in me knew:  that’s no omen, it’s just a fucking critter hole.

A short couple of steps up the hill, then a brief struggle with a particularly determined clump of bushes, and I awkwardly managed to work myself around to the other side of the stone. Clearing off some clinging Virginia Creeper, I was startled to see my imagined cinematic scenario fulfilled. “TALBERT,” it read.  Really?  Yes.  “TALBERT.”

No specific individuals’ names or dates were listed, but it was the surname I was searching for, and felt satisfied to have found this much.  It was already more than I figured we’d be able to accomplish, given that, as I said, there’d been a complete lack of planning in this venture.  I guess I had just thought I’d roll into Abingdon, VA – my father’s family’s home for over a century – and see what I could find.  Check out what’s in the historical society, stop into a few stores and ask around, what have you.  Except that I didn’t think about this being a Sunday.  In a small town, in the South. To my fellow confused Californians out there:  this means that basically everything’s closed.  Strangely, no-one seems to be home either.

Earlier that day, armed only with Google Maps’ insistence that there was a small plot of land here called “Hayter Cemetery” – where I knew that the Talberts, my paternal grandmother’s family, were buried –  I had quickly discovered what any native Virginian could have easily told me; that there are hundreds of family cemeteries all over this history-riddled countryside, but many have been moved, destroyed, or otherwise made virtually inaccessible, laying within the confines of other people’s private property.

Which explained why the “unnamed street” where the cemetery had appeared on the map turned out to be someone’s driveway.  And why now – pinned between blackberry bushes and the gaping hole of some animal’s den, amongst the remains of my long-dead ancestors – technically, I was trespassing.


Next up: creepy things happen!  And then we go to the theatre.