Mama’s In The Graveyard Again?

I hang out at old graveyards sometimes. And I homeschooled my three sons. But stay with me, now, the two are connected.

land run1892

The county in which we farm/ranch was opened for homesteading in 1892 in an event called a land run. Homesteaders raced to stake out the best claims, and soon, nearly every quarter-section of land (160 acres) in our county was homesteaded. People built homes, roads, schools, and had families, but then they began to learn western Oklahoma weather was a grinding, deadly force. Many of the homesteaders fought a losing battle with the hot summer winds that shriveled the crops in the fields and dried up water supplies, and the bitter winter winds that killed their livestock, their children, and them.

Little by little the population thinned as the homesteaders departed for friendlier country, leaving only crumbling dreams–and the dead–behind. Isolated and forgotten cemeteries abound in this area. The two cemeteries I visited today began to see use around 1900. Some of the dead had been born before the Civil War, but many were children and babies. Lots of them.

Rainey Cemetery  Lake Valley, OK

When I visit those quiet cemeteries, I imagine the hopes and dreams buried there. And while I can’t say I enjoy graveyards–not in the accepted sense of the word–they are peaceful.

So, why, I hear y’all asking, did you develop this morbid fascination with cemeteries, Danni?

Hello? The answer is obvious.

I homeschooled my three sons and I needed a place to go where NOBODY WOULD BOTHER ME!

As I stumbled around through the grave stones, I could put my problems in perspective. The twitching hands of my imagination gradually fell away from the throat of the son whose test question might have looked like this:

Ulysses S Grant was a general in which war: (a) War of 1812 (b) Civil War (c)War on Drugs.

C is circled.

No, my boys weren’t that bad. Not by the time they graduated, anyway. If they had been, I might have laid down in the chicken bus and just went ahead and let my hens peck me to death.

Actual chicken house on our outfit

Actual chicken house on our outfit

Inside of Chicken Bus

Interior of chicken bus, with nests, roosts and brooder cover. Handy wheel wells make chickens feel tall.

You may be thinking, “This lady is one cracked pot,” but I prefer to think I merely enjoy a dark sense of humor. The McGriffith clan is known for dark humor. (And crackpots, too, if you must know, but that’s beside the point.)

Two small examples: The young McGriffith boys’ favorite song when they were growing up was Garth Brooks Mama’s In the Graveyard, Papa’s in the Pen. And son #3 had a joke he shared with his grandpa, Earnest, on a regular basis.

He’d walk up to his gramps and say, “There were two maggots fightin’ in dead Earnest.”

That was it, punchline and all. Both of them laughed uproariously every time.

My goodness, with senses of humor like that, don’t let anybody ever say homeschooled kids aren’t socialized.

So, my advice to all you homeschool moms teachers out there in the rural areas of our great country: Just after the quiz–but right before you snap–run, drive, or ride your horse over to a lonely hilltop cemetery somewhere. Let the wind blow through what’s left of your hair for a while.

Enjoy the silence.

God bless all y’all and enjoy the Peasall Sisters (homeschooled, I believe) doing an awesome job singing, Where No One Stands Alone

*These artists don’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just like ’em.

12 thoughts on “Mama’s In The Graveyard Again?

  1. Danni,
    I was raised right beside a cemetery and I adore them to this day. Every country I go to I look for cemeteries — I want to know how they bury their dead.

    Also, I homeschooled my children, so I totally get trying to find a place away from them, lol.

    Lovely writing, as always. I am trying to catch up with my friends’ blogs — it’s been a busy time here. Thanks for your post.

    • Thank you for visiting, Drema 🙂 I understand playing catch up for sure.
      I once talked to a guy from Germany who was totally freaked out by the custom of viewing dead bodies. Each culture is different. I suppose home schoolers in some other countries have to find the equivalent to cemeteries to get away from their students 😀

  2. I have been enjoying catching up on your blog. Before we moved to the suburbs, we lived in a small rural town. As a young girl growing up, and then as a young wife and mother I enjoyed walking to the cemetery. When I was upset or discouraged, there was something about it that was calm and peaceful. I think it was because I have always been taught that death is not the end; and that it could be the beginning of the best thing that will ever happen to anybody. There are times here in the suburbs that I wish there was a nearby cemetery to walk to… *sigh*

    Speaking of a morbid sense of humor, and family crack-pots…
    Your son #3 once gave me a petrified fish eye as a “betrothal” gift…
    (we were both kids, and it was a joke, there was no actual betrothal) 😉
    Just for laughs I kept it for a few years, in my Bible case of all things.
    I’m not sure who was more of a crack-pot, him for giving me the fish eye, or me for keeping it…

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  5. Enjoyed the post. I haven’t been to visit the graveyard for therapy yet, but I feel that soon I could be able to furnish therapy to graveyard visitors. haha

  6. Well, I find we have more and more in common. We too live by a cemetery and I love to walk through it and read the headstones, and am morbidly fascinated–especially by the small ones marking the graves of children. (There’s one marking the graves of 3 siblings, ages 8 to 12, who died within months of each other. I cannot imagine their parents’ grief.) And I nearly blogged about my cemetery fascination too–in fact, I think I will. You have inspired me. Though, despite all our similarities, I may have to draw the line at the chicken bus–as much as my kids would love it. I’ll just send them to the neighbors who have guinea hens (which I think is just fancy for “little chicken”.)

    • Oh, I’m always so relieved to find someone else who pokes around at the graveyard. I encourage you to do your cemetery post. I will look forward to reading it as only another graveyard poker could 🙂

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