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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tracing my past

Left early this morning with a torrent of rain above me. As I pulled out of the Drury Inn in Meridian, MS --- I could barely see the road, and I quietly determined that this day of exploring my past was going to quickly become a wasted effort.  In this undetermined stillness, I pushed onward recalling from memory, the backroads and pathways to find my ancestor's graveyard site.

I drove up to Eutaw, AL and then Northwest to Aliceville, then Reform, then finally Millport and Kennedy. I turned up a poor rustic neighborhood to find the old city cemetery simply painted along the side of a simple country road. No elaborate fencing, brick pillars, nor gates encompassed this place, just a mixture of old and new headstones.

I parked in the church parking lot across the street and headed instinctively for the back of the cemetery, towards the old graves...those who had some roots down by this time, truly had a story to tell. I marched around in the remnants of some very light rain, trying to locate my family. Then, I found them. I cannot explain the feeling of finding links to the past, tangible markers that help you feel more connected to who you are as a person in this life.

As I located my great-great-great grandfather's monument, a mild sense of pride and peace raced through my veins.  This man, who would never know me nor my existence in this world, set the course for my ability to kneel above his final very ability to breathe & to live was set into motion before his death some 110 years ago.

Our lives do carry us forward and the choices we make certainly affect the future. I could not help from feeling connected & part of a larger, more extended family even by simply touching their engraved stone markers bearing my father's surname. I allowed myself to drift back, to try to feel their presence, to believe that in some small way, they were glad that I was there.

What will my grave say about my life and about those who will visit in the future?

My great-great-great grandfather William H. Smothers

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