Saturday, July 14, 2012

Resting in Peace

Last month as the forest fire blazed and we were fleeing east to Dallas, we found ourselves in little Brownfield, Texas. Pam suddenly realized we were just a few miles south of even tinier Meadow, Texas, where her mother's family farmed for several generations.

Some of those ancestors lie buried in Terry County Memorial Cemetery just outside Brownfield. Pam decided we should pause and pay respects.

So we fired up the iPad and Mapquested our way to the place, which proved easy to find because it was one of the few substantial stands of trees anywhere in or near the town, or for that matter between us and the horizon in any direction.

Pam had been to at least one funeral there many years ago, but she had no recollection of where in the park it had taken place. So we began cruising the quiet lanes and scanning the markers for the family name, which was Waters.

After a few minutes I realized a curious thing. All the names on the headstones were Hispanic. At first we thought we might have blundered into the Catholic cemetery. But then I had the idea that since we had turned left from the center road to start our search, we might find Anglo names if we went back and turned right instead.

Sure enough, we found that the other half of the cemetery was populated with Osborns, Baggetts, Haywoods, Paddacks, Andresses, and, presently, several Waters.

Otherwise, the two halves of the burial ground were indistinguishable. Same good perpetual care. Same handsome stones. Same lovingly placed flowers here and there. Just across the county road to the south was Zion Cemetery, just as well groomed. We didn't go in to see what sort of folks lay there, but we didn't really have to.

Every soul in all three parcels lived and died in what was and remains for the most part a segregated community. But there they all are, peaceably sharing the only shade for miles around, separate but indisputably equal at last.

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