Thanking my friend, Sally L. Johnson of Urbana, Ohio, for her kind ongoing encouragement and support of my outreach for cemetery preservation improvements, particularly here in Ohio.
I wanted to re-share what Sally so kindly shared with me this week.
The short story Sally shared below is one that reflects the feelings many of us have regarding our ancestors and how our desire to honor them guides us toward taking steps to preserve their gravesites; and thus honor their memory and show our respect that we care.
Excerpts from Sally:
"Here’s the Wendell Berry piece I spoke about. He’s one of my favorite authors and this is an excerpt from the first of a small book of his short stories. It is set in an area of small farms around a fictional village of Port William, Kentucky. The farmers are poor, working the acreages wrested from the heavily-wooded hillsides generations ago by their ancestors. Berry’s middle-aged character Andy is musing about the death of his beloved grandfather twenty-five years before":
Sharing quotations from Wendell Berry and his book
"Fidelity - Five Stories" -- from the first story entitled : "Pray Without Ceasing."
“Mat Feltner was my grandfather on my mother’s side. Saying it thus, I force myself to reckon again with the strangeness of the verb was. The man of whom I once was pleased to say ‘He is my grandfather,’ has become the dead man who was my grandfather. He was, and is no more. And this is a part of the great mystery we call time.
But, the past is present also. And this, I think, is a part of the greater mystery we call eternity…when my grandfather was dying, I was not thinking about the past. My grandfather was still a man I knew, but as he subsided day by day, he was ceasing to be the man I had known. I was experiencing consciously for the first time that transformation in which the living, by dying, pass into the living…this man who was my grandfather is present in me, as I felt always his father to be present in him.
But even the unknown past is present in us, its silence as persistent as a ringing in the ears. When I stand in the road that passes through Port William, I am standing on the strata of my history that go down through the known past into the unknown; the blacktop rests on state gravel, which rests on county gravel, which rests on the creek rock and cinders laid down by the town when it was still mostly beyond the reach of the county; and under the creek rock and cinders is the dirt track of the town’s beginning, the buffalo trace that was the way we came.
You work your way down, or not so much down as within, into the interior of the present, until finally you come to that beginning in which all things, the world and the light itself, at a word welled up into being out of their absence. And, nothing is here that we are beyond the reach of merely because we do not know about it.”
" Linda, you have preserved much of the “interior of the present” by your attention to the markers and the lives of those we did not know, but who are yet present in us. You have encouraged preservation of their tangible tributes and the stories they tell."
Sally is quite active with a number of civic affairs activities in Urbana, Ohio.
See blog posts of:
May 13, 2014: