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Thursday, 02 June 2011

Charlie Solves a Grave Problem

By Nancy Leitz

When Grandmom Leitz died in the early 1970s, she was buried in Fernwood Cemetery next to Grandpop Leitz, her husband of 60 years. Everyone in the family thought the grave site was lovely. It was on a shady knoll and there were hundreds of azalea bushes nearby.

We all thought that we would never forget their burial place and could visit whenever we liked to place a Christmas wreath or birthday flowers. How mistaken we were.

The first time her daughter, Sue, went to Fernwood to visit her mother and father's graves, she wandered for a half an hour around and around the cemetery and finally found the grave site.

She had little Charlie, her four-year-old grandson, with her that day and he also placed some flowers on his great grandparents' graves and then wandered off and looked at all the other interesting gravestones that dotted the cemetery.

There were angels playing harps and stones with Bibles open to the 23rd psalm and realistic replicas of the Gates of Heaven. Charlie was fascinated with the diverse display of original stones that sometimes depicted what the dearly departed one had done during his lifetime. He took notice of everything, which we were to learn later.

The next time Sue went, she went alone and never found the site and came home very dejected and concerned about her inability to find the graves and wondering if she was "losing it" as she said.

We all assured her that the cemetery was large and confusing and everything looked pretty much alike and she should not worry about her mind. She was fine.

A few weeks later, she again decided to go to Fernwood and this time she had Charlie with her again. She told me that she drove into the place and Charlie kept looking right and left and all of a sudden he said, "Stop, Mom Mom, this is the place where Grandmom is."

Sue parked the car and sure enough, there was the grave site right before her. She couldn't believe it; this little kid had directed her to the exact spot the very first time.

Sue placed the flowers on the grave and straightened out the vases and while she worked, Charlie again wandered around gazing at the angels and the gates of heaven and all the other stones that he loved to look at.

By this time, Sue was pretty sure that without Charlie she would never find those graves so every time she wanted to go she had to find out if the boy was available. If he was taking a nap or was on a "play date," she had to wait until he could go with her or it was a wasted trip.

Charlie got lots of rides in the car and stops at the ice cream shop on the way home. It was the talk of the family and we all had different ideas about just how this young boy knew exactly where those graves were.

This all happened years ago and I am certain that Chuck (as he renamed himself when he was about 14) could still find that site today. Not wanting to lose the special treats he was getting from Mom Mom, he never told how he was able to locate those graves.

Fast forward about 20 years and you will find all of us at our family cottage, sitting around having a few drinks and waiting for the hamburgers to get ready.

Someone took a quick swig of their beer and mentioned Mom Mom and that brought up a whole lot of memories and it seemed like one of those memories was about the trips that "Chuck" used to take to the cemetery with her.

There was a great deal of moaning about no one else being taken on those Fernwood ice cream runs. Brother Richard mentioned that not once had he been invited to go and sister Andrea sipped on her Cabernet and in her best I've-been-slighted" voice, told us how she had always hoped that perhaps it would be her turn next to go with Mom Mom to Fernwood.

But, no such luck. She had never been invited. As all this was going on, Chuck sat sipping his Grey Goose and smiling a secret smile.

Finally, I suppose Charlie (it's still hard to call him Chuck) came to the conclusion that the statute of limitations had run out on Fernwood and it was time for him to tell us exactly how he always led Mom Mom to the right spot and earned his ice cream cone on the way home.

It seems there was a very special grave marker that Charlie had discovered on his wanderings around Fernwood. The deceased had been a deep sea diver and his marker was a bronzed deep sea diving outfit complete with the round glass top that fitted over the diver's head and was clamped in place with bolts.

It was the exact size and shape of a real diving outfit and, of course, it was just the thing that would attract a young boy's attention. The diver had been buried about 20 feet from Grandmom and Charlie had only to look for the diver and he would find Grandmom.

Always remembering his treat on the way home, Charlie was careful never to tell Mom Mom about the deep sea diving outfit because if he had, she could have brought one of the other kids with her as a deep sea diver spotter and then they would have gotten the ice cream.

After the secret of the grave was divulged, we all poured a new drink and made a special toast to Grandmom, Mom Mom and, of course, Charlie and the deep sea diver.

Then we made "Chuck" an ice cream cone.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a great story!! He was a smart kid, Nancy, and I bet he still is!

I love it! It is just like something one of my brothers would do! I think Chuck deserved all the ice cream for keeping that secret!

What a smart little guy Charlie was...and he deserved every one of those ice cream treats. What a great story Nancy...I love it.

Great, great family treasure, the story and Charlie/Chuck...so many little things make relationships, most we skip on by and never think about them until you read something like this...great sharing..thanks...

Great story and well told. I think Charlie deserved every one of those ice cream cones.

Thanks, Judy. Yes, Charlie was a smart kid and you bet he is still a winner!

Hi Grannymar:
I know you could tell some stories, having all those brothers..I've told a few stories about mine!

Joy: Thanks for reading my story and for your nice comment. Charlie deserved that ice cream all right..Mom Mom would have been lost without him.

Mary: You are so right about stories and family relationships. I wish I could remember the stories behind a lot of the fun things that happened in our family.

Thanks, Mary. Charlie deserved the treats because he was smart enough to keep the deep sea diver to himself.

I just made a similar trip with my aunt who is 94. We drove round and round the cemetery and finally had to get someone who worked there to find "our" graves. We certainly could have used a Charlie.

Well, Marcia, remember that Charlie doesn't work for nothing.

Have an ice cream cone ready!

Charlie may have been a little con artist but he was still a very smart one. Just the fact that he remembered the diver's tombstone is as good as remembering the family grave site.

Love this true story and love you too:)

Thanks, Annie for reading the story and for your wonderful comment.

Love comes your way,too!

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