Ghosts of Grandparents Present

Stop me if I start waxing philosophic. Visiting graveyards does that to me.

Today, Dustin and I took my grandparents for a drive through Chelsea for the Family History tour. It was a perfect day. Despite the fact that it’s already November, the weather is gorgeous (in the 50s today), the trees are in brilliant color, and the whole town is simply scenic.

My grandfather was born here in 1918. Six months before he was born, a tornado swept through and destroyed his family’s home, their church, and ruined much of the local crop. He has several historic photos, which I’ll have to see if I can get copies of. His family quickly rebuilt the house, and he was born there in the middle of a blizzard where no doctors could reach them for a week.

Both my grandparents are good German stock. Heck – everyone out here is good German stock. The graveyards are full of Wenks and Meyers and Koebbes and Hiebers and on and on. In fact, the graveyards were something of a tour highlight this afternoon. The area is quite old, dating to the early 1800s, and as a result, the graveyards are numerous and well-populated.

One graveyard is particularly important to my grandparents. There, you will find an impressive number of Wenks, along with various other offshoots of the family tree. In fact, you will even find my grandparents’ tombstone. Yes, the same grandparents who were giving us this little tour. Their stone has been carved and in place for the last 20 years, along with pre-paid arrangements at a local funeral home.

Rest in peace. You know... when you get there.

I find this complacency about death very disconcerting. Okay, we’ll all die eventually, I’ve come to terms with that. But having your tombstone ready to go while in your sixties? I know my grandmother never expected to see the new millennium, but seriously! They’re lucky they didn’t wind up suffering from gravestone Y2K problems with all that anticipation.

My grandma has old genes. Her mother lived to be 96, and considering grandma’s current age (87), she’s in pretty good health. When we suggested she might match her mother’s age, she got flustered and insisted she wanted nothing to do with being that old. Even my grandfather’s grandfather (making him my great great grandfather) lived to be 74. That’s not too shabby for a 19th century farmer. Not too shabby at all. My grandfather will be 90 in January.

If he wasn't German, I don't know what was.

So while my grandparents speak nonchalantly about their upcoming funeral and merrily dole out bits of inheritance here and there (“here, Laura, I’m sure you’ll want these dish towels!”) I just tag along for the ride and am grateful I’ve been able to spend so much time with them before their so-anticipated date of departure from this earth.


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