A visit to Salem to celebrate my father.

Only my sister and I could turn what should be a sad day into a comedy of chaos.

Our dad would have turned eighty today on the shortest day of the year. He always commented on how he hated winter between the cold and dark and being born on winter solace. He had shared his wishes that he be cremated and have his ashes spread between his brothers. About six years ago my dad took Emily and I down to Salem to visit the cemetery, the farm he grew up on, his parents house they moved too after they retired from cattle farming and his brothers house.

My father was cremated but Brenda expressed she couldn’t part with his ashes. We were fine with that. My creepy sister wanted a necklace with some of his ashes so the funeral home gave us some in a small bag. I almost forgot to grab them this morning. We decided we would spread these.

So we head out at 6:30 swearing Salem was a three hour drive but instead was a short two hours. We drove to house first since we went there a lot when we were young. The carport had been turned into a garage. The back of the house had a sliding glass door and a deck. However the propane tank still in the backyard and I could still envision the trellis that was up that had the climbing roses on them. I could also still see grandmas close line and garden.

We then headed over to Uncle Bobs house. I was one number off of the address and I swear the house didn’t look the same as it did five years ago and the yard seemed much smaller than when I was a kid. The senior apartment center my grandma lived in next was right next door. We drove around trying to remember which was hers and which was our Aunt Gracie’s. I had an address and I was like oh it’s her apartment number. When we drove to the recreation building I was like oh yeah I looked it up on the internet.

Then it was time to go to the cemetery. I mean how big can the place be. Karen had found on a gravesite locator website they were in section B. We couldn’t even find section B so we asked a worker who was clueless. He gave us the number to the county clerk. We finally find section B and are wandering all over the section. I finally say call that lady we are never going to find it. So she calls and the lady takes her number so she can go look it up. As we are walking to the car to warm up I’m like stop, look it’s right there. If we would have only parked in front of the B sign we would have seen it right then.

Karen brought some stuff to leave and I was so distracted I almost forgot the entire reason for the trip. I notice the order of graves is Uncle Tom, Aunt Margie, Aunt Ruth and then Uncle Bob. Now how exactly was I suppose to spread them between his brothers when the wives were in the way. Thanks dad for not thinking this through. Bahahaha. So I spread a little over his two brothers and then his parents.

In the meantime Karen has her crafting glue out and is making a very nice display to add to the grave marker. She was annoyed she only had one memorial card but decided to glue the words side out. She also picked up a hot wheel Camaro that was half blue and half green to represent both his cameros. After she gets it all glued I say too bad we didn’t laminate it because the rain will ruin the memorial card. So she gets all finished and screams happy birthday John Carty and gets in the car.

All of a sudden she remembers she has her laminator in the car. She also has an electrical outlet in the car so we go to the gas station to use the restroom while she also finds laminator sheets. We get back to the gravesite and she now has to carefully peel his memorial card off that she stuck on with gorilla glue. She plugs in the laminator and it’s too much voltage and blows the circuit. So not to be deterred she slides the card in the pouch and cuts it down to size with her straight edge paper cutter. I said it was a good thing she had that as our dad could draw a straight line without a ruler and always had picture edges perfectly straight. She did a perfect job and glued it back to the headstone and it’s now safe in the rain. I wish I could say the rest of the day was uneventful but we were off to find the farm.

There is no written address for the farm. Back in 1962 the address was The Carty’s Doss Missouri. Luckily at some point I think my grandparents saved the newspaper clipping that announced the farm had been sold (it was in the Carty family for almost one hundred years) and said it was located on a highway next to a bridge. (I knew which highway and the name of the bridge but the entire world does not need this information). So off we go. We come to a bridge and I see the house but I’m like I thought it was white so we keep driving. Now I did take pictures of it five years ago which are uploaded to Walgreens. The actual farmhouse burned to the ground sometime in the seventies I think. I remember Aunt Ruth Uncle Bob and grandma talking about it and we even drove out there at that time. So I’m like wait maybe that’s the house and I’m thinking of the white farmhouse. I’m like I’ll look on Walgreens except we are in middle of nowhere with no cell service. So my sister says why didn’t you screen shot the picture. Thanks genius. We go back and I’m like that has to be it except the barn is now gone as it was near collapse six years ago. So my fathers entire family is gone, his childhood home and the barn he did homework all gone. So I snapped a picture, did not see a for sale sign, and we decided to drive over to licking to see the house my uncle grew up in.

The house was as I remembered once we looked at the address correctly. I don’t remember houses being in the back of them. I did remember if you turn left out of driveway a short distance on right was a gravel road or you could keep going straight. Throughout my life I would dream I would turn down the road and it went on and on to a scary place. Guess what I learned it’s just a short distance to a main road. We also went straight and that road goes on forever. So hopefully those stupid dreams are gone forever. The roads seemed much scarier when I was a kid. We drove over to the high school and said I wonder where moms house was that was close to Judy Ellis. She will probably say that was the house but I don’t think so. However I have zero sense of direction so who knows.

We finished our day by stopping into our cousins cafe in Sullivan. Both of our cousins were there so we got to see them for a bit and had a wonderful lunch. It was an ending to a very nice day.

Mole Moral ~ Only a mole could walk all over a graveyard stomping on people when the grave was literally right next to the road. Rest assured I dropped a pin on my map app to be able to find the grave easier the next time.

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