My turn: Cemeteries hold stories of past

Wendel Sloan

Returning from my small, east Texas hometown to Portales, every small town — Runaway Bay, Loving, Megargel, Vera, Benjamin, Dickens, Ralls, Anton — seemed to have more people in their cemeteries than towns.

The tombstones dated to the early 1800s, with numerous people having died younger than I am.

One could make assumptions about the wealth and prominence of the deceased by their markers.

The departed included doctors, lawyers, musicians, students, teachers, mechanics, farmers, business owners, seamstresses, carpenters, actresses, waitresses, athletes, alcoholics, scientists, housewives, politicians, preachers, atheists, custodians, vegetarians, painters, welders, lawmen, criminals, rich and poor.

Some didn’t live long enough to discover what they would have become.

Others achieved family or career dreams — many did not.

Some were close to achieving their dreams when their lives were cut short by disease or accident.

Others lived longer than they wanted — some ended their misery.

The reposed represent past incarnations of their towns: fashions, chatting, laughing, singing, drinking, dancing, loving, arguing, fighting, killing, eating, selling, buying, playing ball, attending games, strolling hand-in-hand, riding in wagons or cars, waving at passersby.

I knew and loved many in my hometown and Portales cemeteries — book-ending my past and present.

Whenever future strangers see the assorted markers above our final resting places, our lives and dreams will be as invisible and insignificant to them as their ancestors’ are to us.