Julie Seedorf: Thoughts from driving in the countryside

Published 1:00 am Monday, May 15, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Cemeteries play a small part in my mystery series. Both my Fuchsia and Brilliant Series Cozy Mystery books have some of the action taking part in a cemetery.

Recently, I was driving around some back roads trying to avoid all the construction in my travels, and I noticed small plots of land in fields with gravestones marking the graves of what I assume were ancestors of those who live in the area. I wondered where and what the oldest gravestone in Faribault County, where I live, is.

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I didn’t have time to check with the historical society, so I did an online search. I got sidetracked on other interesting tidbits, and my question got lost in those tidbits. I found the historical and ancestry gurus put together impressive sites for us to find information. I don’t usually research cemeteries, but I might have to declare it a new hobby since I found things that tweaked my interest.

At mncemetaries.org, Minnesota Association of Cemeteries, you will find all the Minnesota cemeteries and also tips on choosing a cemetery of your liking. Links to resources available in planning a funeral or cremation are available to help decide your wishes.  This site has links to cemetery news, grief support and state and national resources available for many different organizations.

Again the mystery writer in me made me click on a link in my search from WCCO titled “The Best Haunted Graveyards in Minnesota.” I was disappointed when none were close by, but I seem to remember we had a grave digger or grave robber in my community during my teen years. That story scared us from sitting in the cemetery at night and telling ghost stories.

And of course the genealogy sites can tell you almost anything and everything about cemeteries near and far.

As I was doing my research, I found something that might work into the mystery for my new book. I was in the dark about the fact that certain flowers planted in a cemetery have meaning. Not being a flower expert, I am not sure what some of these plants and flowers look like. I possibly have been seeing them for years planted near loved ones.

A Zinnia means “I mourn your absence.” We see willow trees in cemeteries. A willow represents grief and sorrow; morning glory represents departure, farewell, resurrection. Evergreens are a sign of immortality. My dad loved Phlox and it gives me comfort to know it means “souls united.”

It is amazing what one little thought driving through the countryside can conjure up.

I am sorry we don’t follow the old customs we once did when one owned a farm or land and buried their loved ones on their property near them. On the other hand, as I was driving and taking note of the spots of memorial around the countryside, I also wondered how many are left buried and forgotten on the farm fields of yesteryear, whose remains are lost under streets or suburbs because no none remembered they existed or knew they were there.

I don’t know where my great-great-grandmother is buried or even if any of them are buried in this country. Those who are three or four generations before me must be buried somewhere. It is a mystery. Will it be a mystery that is ever solved? Or will I just bend the story to what I think might have happened and put it in one of my books? Maybe the real story for many of us is better left alone to our imaginations where we can change the course of the past in our dreams and conjure up a past for our loved ones that has a happy ending.

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” — Robert Fulghum

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.