Saturday, July 20, 2013

Perpetual Care

Do any of  you ever recall hearing the term "Perpetual Care" ?

In this world many years ago, when your family owned a cemetery lot, it was large enough for your entire family. It is said that until recent generations, when one referred to their family, it included all those quirky people you grew up with as your "relatives". Cousins, uncles, aunts and each one in between was a part of that family unit.  If there was a weekend brunch, everyone came. If someone got married, plan on an all day event. When someone passed away, the family took care of "things", such as property care and personal business, until the family had mourned and recovered  as best it could. 
The cemetery plot was kept up by the family too, sometimes fenced, with each lot looking different, some not cared for at all. There were monuments and various stones reflecting each of the persons buried there.

Now a family cemetery plot is limited to married couples, or couples with an unmarried child. Normally sold as a two unit plot, very small with no upkeep required.  

When touring a local cemetery and park, I was educated about such things. The one thing that I kept returning to was the Perpetual Care markers on some of the older sites.  These markers were for the families who had the money to pay the cemetery caretaker to "perpetually" (or forever) care for the plot, plants and stones within it. 

Perpetual Care.
Now that is interesting to think about.

Thinking about my spouse- this is a vow my husband and I took in Sept of 1992- to care for one another as long as we lived, and to care for our souls in the process so we could care for one another eternally.

Thinking about my mother. With a few exceptions, once a mother, always a mother! This one has been tough for me to figure out- there are boundaries when your children are adults, yet somehow I still feel responsible, embarrassed, proud and angry with their choices, or lack of. One of them doesn't live here anymore, and I am still always worried about his reflection on himself and our family. I worry that the next one to leave won't remember to call and chit-chat with her momma, or come see us when we are old, or ask if she needs something. 

Thinking about my God. With all of the instructions and directions and laws and parables, God promises Perpetual Care...Eternal life with Him and His son for all of time. Perpetual while on this earth and perpetual afterward. 

Such a powerful little thing for me to notice this week, at a point in time when those around me do not share my beliefs. A point in time when I was standing in the most beautiful cemetery I have ever seen in my life- ( I have been to Arlington and this was completely different), surrounded by the last thoughts about men and women and babies who died from their cause, or illness or accident. A point in time when God determined to let the thunder roll and roll as storms rolled in and brought lightening and thunder and showers with them, contributing to the ambiance of the place I stood. 

As I stood under a 300 year old magnificent oak tree, I wondered about its version of perpetual care, its branches hanging so low they touched the earth then returned upward, its leaves stretching for the light of the sun. While its leaves stretched and grew, its branches protected many of the family plots that surround it, like a mothers arms around her children for all eternity, protecting them until God takes them for his own.

As I looked upon the rows of Civil War tombstones, men from both sides fallen side by side, now laid to rest aside one another , some identified , some not, all leaving this earthly life feeling as though they are fighting for a cause- only to find the same perpetual care in the same heaven with the same God smiling on them all for their worthy sacrifice. 

I am sure there are other applications of "Perpetual Care" that I have overlooked. If any of you have anything to add, please feel free to comment- I love reading what you have to say, and its nice knowing someone is reading.

Praying today for Perpetual Care to be made applicable in my life in a new way. 

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