When I go to a cemetery, I just want to be able to photograph every headstone to post on the website www.findagrave.com. This does a couple of things: it preserves the images of the stones, many of which are slowly wearing away and will one day be illegible. It also makes it possible for family researchers everywhere to find information for their family tree. Often, for people who lived more than one hundred years ago, that headstone may be the only record they left behind.
When I arrive at a cemetery that is clearly to big to photograph at one time, I try to focus on the older stones, as well as the military stones and those that memorialize little children, two groups that hold a special place in my heart.
I especially love New England's old cemeteries, and when I'm visiting my Mom in Rhode Island, I love to tag along with her on her visits as she works with the Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Commission.
On one such trip, we visited the Rockland Cemetery in Scituate, Rhode Island, up in the northeast corner of the state not too far from Connecticut. One of the headstones I "randomly" photographed was that of Alvin Leroy Church, who had been a member of a Coastal Artillery Regiment during WWI. I also have a cousin who has that surname in her family tree. That was in November of 2011.
Fast forward to last March, 2016. A woman contacted me through findagrave to ask about the Rockland Cemetery, as she found my name attached to the photograph and memorial on the website. Here's what she said:
"My mother has decided she would like to be buried with her parents in Rockland cemetery which also her infant sister, grandparents and aunts and uncles are buried rather than in the veterans cemetery with my father. I have been trying to reach someone to speak to but have not been successful. I was wondering if maybe you had some information that would help me to be able to speak with someone at the cemetery. My mom is 88 yrs old and she is worried about not being able to be buried there. We would like to be able to put her mind at ease regarding this change in burial plans. Thank you again for the photos , my mom was very happy to know that someone took the time to take them."
I checked with my Mom, gave the woman some suggestions, and forgot all about it. This afternoon I received this email:
"I would like to thank you and your mother for your help in granting my mother her wishes for her burial . We did contact the funeral home and made her arrangements with them. She did pass on July 9, 2016 and was buried with her parents at Rockland cemetery. all the arrangements for her burial were made ahead and she was very happy that she was able to be buried with her parents. thank you again for your help , it was very much appreciated. I don't think we would have been able to make this possible without you and your mom. we were lost at how to make these arrangements and getting in touch with Rockland cemetery. thank you again."
Ripples in a pond.