Very recently I was asked by a fellow reenactor to participate in a cemetery walk at Riverside Cemetery in Plymouth. Yes, dear reader, that is me standing amongst the graves. It certainly felt odd, as if I had a larger audience than the living that had come to take a peek!
I took the role of Ella Chaffee (1854-1946), a school teacher who lived and taught in the area. She married Elmer Chaffee, and at age 20 in 1877 she became the principal of the school. In 1881 she joined the school board where she remained until 1896. It was fitting that I portrayed such an education-minded lady!
I spoke to the tour group as if I had risen properly for a short time to tell them about my life. There was mention of "mealworms" and "walking over my grave." I feel that I must have entertained them, as they laughed at my many remarks!
I was not the only reenactor to participate-the others took on other people from different times, including a famous senator, scorned woman, female judge, immigrant, and soldier. Their stories were compelling, even after death!
Before and after the presentations I decided to walk around a bit, exploring the graves. I found so many interesting buildings/statues. A few were worn down, while others seemed to stand the test of time. It was quiet, peaceful if you don't count the hundreds of dead turning a sleepy eye to a woman dressed from the past...
There were a few graves of children that were sad-I imagined how hard it must have been to bury them. One didn't even have a name, as I'm sure it could have been a stillbirth. There were also graves that time had oddly shaped. A large crack developed between a married couple's names-coincidence of time? Or evidence of distemper after death? I walked carefully amongst the graves, taking care to brush off any leaves or dirt that had accumulated over time. I didn't want them to think they had been completely forgotten!
Finally, I just had to include this last one. A "die hard" Michigan fan! I have so much respect for the man who honors my alma matter even in death!
It might seem weird, even morbid to spend time with the dead. However, I found my time to be quite enjoyable, and it made me contemplate my own mortality. No one wants to think of death, but it is inevitable. Where would I be buried? What type of stone do I want? Or funeral? I am so lucky to have already lived a full and happy life, and this visit reminded me of my many blessings.
I think I shall have to go and put flowers on the graves of my Aunt Patti and Grandpa.