To add to my fascination with human anatomy, cemeteries weave in and out of my history. My family always had cemeteries on or beside their property, and as a child I spent many a moonlit night creeping about the dilapidated graveyards creating stories about the people buried there.
Around 5 years old, my best friend Pepper and I ran to the edge of one of these cemeteries to cut through to my house. We were itching for a sleep-over. When we hopped upon the stone wall the fire station alarm blasted. Surprised, we screamed and jumped back down. Our wide eyes met and soon melted into giggles. Just a coincidence, of course. So we plowed forth, but once our feet landed on the wall the siren blasted again! The pounding of my heart nearly choked me. Pepper was ready to run back to her house, but I was ever the rough and fearless tomboy. “No! We have to go through the cemetery! It’s just the fire alarm. There is no way it’s going off ’cause we stepped on the wall. Come on!” I grabbed her hand and pulled. I was a bit of a pushy bully too. We hit the wall and sure enough the siren went off for the third time. That was enough for me. We ran way around the cemetery to get to my house. Pepper never went near that graveyard again. I, however, could not stay away. I truly believed it was the souls of the dead trying to communicate with me and spent the remainder of my childhood days at that house jumping the wall every chance I could hoping for the sirens’ return.
I spent hours with my grandmother riding bicycles through the huge cemetery by her house. My favorite uncle was buried there. I stopped and talked to him a lot. I now have my grandmother’s gravestone as a step into my studio. It had a misprint of her middle name so my mother had another stone made for her grave. I have studied the history of grave stones, taken courses on stone reparations and walked many a graveyard with my son, mapping out histories and family lineage.
I just found out today that I was elected cemetery commissioner for my small local town. I have already helped the commission to obtain funding for a reparation assessment of the local graveyards. I am thrilled and a bit humored that I can now say I am a gravedigger. It ties perfectly with my slightly morbid interest and artistic endeavors exploring the flesh and bones of the human body.