The Good Old Days


April FreemanSome people persistently talk about the “Good Old Days,” when life was better. Not as much crime in the good old days. People worked together better in the good old days. You could leave your doors unlocked in the good old days. Community helped one another in the good old days.

I don’t know. I’m just 36 years old, but sometimes I believe that these folks prefer to look at the past through rose colored lenses. It’s easy to idealize a time when Mom and Dad, grandparents, and treasured friends were all alive and together in one place, especially when you’ve lost many that you care about. But I’m not convinced that the good old days were as perfect as some say.

Yesterday, I was cleaning up one of our fields and found a small, decorative banner. I knew it had blown off of one of the grave decorations in the small cemetery that adjoins our field, so I entered the fence to replace it. This cemetery reminds me all the time of my mortality. It was a small family-owned burial ground from the original homesteaders of this area. Many of the graves are from the early 1900s, and a few are even older than that. Over the years, people other than family members have been buried here, but it’s a stark reminder that no matter how hard you work each day, you can’t take it with you.

The graves that always give me pause are the babies’ graves. And in this small graveyard there are plenty. Child after child lost before the baby was even five years old. I can count on one hand the number of friends that I know who have lost babies, but these graves remind me that there was a time and day that it wasn’t uncommon for babies to die. Some of these children didn’t even survive long enough to have a name. These tombstones simply read, “Infant son of …”

I stop at the tiny tombstones that are lined up neatly in a row. Apparently one family lost one baby after another. I think about these mothers from so many years ago. I consider it carefully because I have negative blood. Were it not for medical science, I could have buried baby after baby due to Rh disease. Now, thankfully, I have four healthy children, and I’ve kind of taken it for granted that they’ll grow up healthy and strong.

Cemeteries remind us of our humanity.

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