By Lucy Fuller
The sun was shining bright. It was a beautiful day. Jody and I had nothing planned for the first weekend in months. We had nothing but time, so we decided to do what we love best; we spent the day outside.
We started out with a walk down to our creek with the dogs. Jody was pushing Abby in the stroller and I was looking down at the ground, like my grandfather taught me, on a desperate search for an arrowhead. I’ve never found one before. We live near Horseshoe Bend, so it’s prime territory for Native American artifacts. I was determined to find one.
No luck. I didn’t find any, but I returned to the house with a warm heart and a smile on my face. We always have a good time on our daily walks. We talk, we laugh, we observe the world around us, and count our many blessings. We always try to thank God for where we are in our lives no matter what obstacles we may be facing.
Upon returning to Terrapin Slide, the Fuller family homeplace, we decided to drive over to a nearby cemetery to visit Jody’s grandparents, Mawmaw and Pawpaw Fuller. We owed them a visit. After all, we are living in their home. It only seems fitting that we pay our respects and thank them for leaving not only a legacy to live up to but a beautiful home full of warm memories and rich history.
We took a road, literally less traveled, named Punkin Hill Road. Yes, you read that correctly…“Punkin” Hill. Along this glorious dirt road, we stumbled across a cemetery. It was small, overgrown, and in the middle of nowhere. I was immediately in love. We walked around and read the names and dates on the tombstones. There were many Fullers, Knights and Colleys, but there was one unique name on a headstone that sat to the back of the property all by itself. The person was born in 1792 on Christmas day. I longed to know his story. Why was he alone? Where was his family?
I solemnly made my way back to the car where Jody, Abby, and my trusty Jack Russell were waiting for me. We then drove to Lebanon Cemetery.
Upon arrival, we went directly to the final resting place of Mawmaw and Pawpaw Fuller. While Jody told me brief stories of their life, I placed my hand upon their headstone and quietly introduced myself. I whispered well wishes and thanks. Although I received no reply, I know that they were obliged to meet me. I noticed a slight breeze in the air. As I looked up from their headstone, suddenly I felt as if that was their way of welcoming me to their community and their home. I smiled as I traced my finger along the goosebumps on my arm.
Jody and Abigail were walking around looking for his relatives that were long laid to rest. I found myself wandering around also. I always like to go to the oldest part of the cemetery. I walked slowly and carefully to the very back of the graveyard looking down as usual. I never want to miss anything and I didn’t.
I took in all that I saw. I listened to every single story that each epitaph whispered into my heart which was growing quite heavy. I saw numerous unmarked graves—graves with sandstone rocks for headstones. I paid respects to the stones with the Confederate and American flags and paid notice to the ones that had no flag to celebrate their service.
I saw more infant graves than I think I ever have, or ever wanted to, in one cemetery. These young angels only graced this earth for a brief moment. Some, I assumed, passed during childbirth, while others made it almost a year. During their time, a newborn with typhoid fever, or Rubella didn’t stand a chance. I was reminded of how blessed we are.
My heart sank, and my head was whirling. Everywhere I turned was another tiny headstone that simply read “Infant.” I felt the pain of the mothers and fathers who were buried right beside their little ones. I gently brushed each headstone with my hand while looking ahead to the next lonely marker. I found myself whispering prayers of peace and comfort for these little souls.
I was startled back to reality when I heard a baby crying. I quickly realized it was my own. It was already starting to get dark. How long had I been there?
What time was it? It’s amazing how time becomes so still and easily forgotten, almost frozen, in the land of the buried.
I looked at my wrist and it was gone. My watch was gone.
I retraced my steps carefully out loud as we loaded ourselves back into the car. I frantically looked under the passenger seat but to no avail. We decided to go back to the beginning. So we went home, regrouped and planned our excursion for the lost watch.
We went back down to the creek. We looked on the dirt road. We drove to the lonely graveyard at Punkin Hill. We searched the dirt road where I had leaned out of the car to take pictures of the incredible sky. We returned to the solitude of Lebanon Cemetery where my heart ached once more for those tiny graves.
We spent hours searching cemeteries for lost souls that day. We then searched those same cemeteries for hours upon end for my watch. Isn’t it kind of funny that the living and the dead are both constantly searching for time? All of a sudden, I was rudely awakened by this realization. I didn’t find my watch that evening, but I found the cold hard truth of life. What a shuddering outlook I now viewed of my time on Earth.
We are always searching for time.
My time was found in, of all places, the freezer three days later. I reached in for ice and pulled out my frozen watch. It still worked.
Time well spent is time never wasted.
Lucy Fuller is a lover of nature, animals, gardening, and old houses. She is a full-time mother and wife. She currently resides in Opelika with her husband, two daughters, 3 dogs, and cat. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.