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Cemetery On the Hill

By Stacy Vellas, 1994

'Way up in northern Minnesota
In the land of the spruce and pine,
My grandfather secured a homestead
Near the Aitkin County line.

He left his work on the railroad
Back in nineteen hundred and one
He headed north with a wagonload,
His wife, his daughter and son.

He cleared out trees for a garden
And put the plow to the land.
They worked together side by side
She a woman; he a man.

He built a house and a hay barn
And removed the rocks by hand.
Four children survived, the two that died
They buried on a small plot of land.

I never knew my grandmother.
She died before I was born.
But, my mother often spoke of her
And I wished she wasn't gone.

She had leakage of the heart
But the cattle still had to be fed.
She was fifty-four when she died.
"Her heart stopped," My mother said.

In a plain pine box she was buried
That he made with his own hand.
He carried her up the hill to her children
And laid her to rest on his land.

As a child I'd often pass by her grave
On my way to the spring by the lake.
I'd stand by the fence and look in on her
Where the wild roses grew on her grave.

The cemetery as it remains today

The homestead again is planted in pine.
Reforested by the state.
And the wind passes over a plot of land
In a small fence without a gate.

And there in the meadow on the hill
Where tall grass grows in the spring.
Three lonely little graves remain
Where the robins and bluebirds sing.

***

During my childhood years that cemetery on the hill was a very pleasant place. I knew the story of my Grandmother and her children and I knew she had meant a lot to her children. The wild roses had a gentle odor when I stopped to look in on her. So, for all my life cemeteries have been a look into history for me. A special place where special people that lived and now rest forever. Every few years we go back and care for their graves and it is a pleasant journey back in time.

- © 1994 Stacy Vellas
[stasia6@earthlink.net]

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