Recalling Worthy Words of Wisdom
Unlike many of the subscribers to this newspaper, I don’t habitually read the letters to the editor.
However, I do scan the column and will occasionally zero in on one that may be written by someone I know, or whose viewpoint I respect. But, more than likely, it’s the personal ones that command my full attention. Such was the case the week before Mother’s Day.
The letter was written by a resident of Carthage and was openly addressed to an anonymous thief. This thief did not break into a house or car. This thief did not shoplift. This thief did not steal prescriptions drugs for resale. This thief stooped lower than that. This thief had stolen flowers from a cemetery and, in particular, from the grave site of the writer’s mother.
The author issued a warning of sorts, with predictions of God’s pending wrath and possible arrest by local authorities. But the letter also contained an indirect plea for a show of respect and righteousness. Mother’s Day was forthcoming and fresh flowers would be put out in memory of this beloved woman. It would also mark her birthday.
My older son, David, is buried in the “new” section of Maplewood Cemetery in Durham. It’s owned by the city. That section is more than 20 years old and is referred to as being “new” simply because the city decided that only flat headstones would be permitted in the expansion. It was a cost-cutting measure designed to effectively reduce ground maintenance.
As a consequence, that section is dotted with clusters of artificial flowers and the more popular mini-flags. We opted for the flags and regularly change them as the seasons evolve or to note David’s birthday or a holiday. They mark a plot of ground we consider hallowed.
But, there’s a grievous problem — they’re stolen. Sometimes they last two weeks or even up to two months, but at times, they, along with others, are taken within two days. It’s a hurt I had thought could not be equaled.
When I returned from Oak Island last September after my father’s funeral, I had among my phone messages a call from the North Carolina Zoo. In summary, it said that “something” had happened to a sculpture that had been dedicated in memory of David. Oddly enough, the dedication had been held on Sept. 27, 1999 – 10 years to the day from the time I received the message.
That “something” was that the sculpture had been ripped from its base and subsequently thrown into a nearby thicket. The theory was that whoever had taken it had not anticipated its weight. It could have been lucratively disposed of. Bronze, we were told, would have a buyer waiting.
When I called Dedi McHam, a Moore County resident who is a nationally recognized equine sculptor, to ask her how it could have happened, she listened patiently. While she didn’t have the answer, she was genuinely understanding.
Her late husband, Mac, is buried at the Pinebluff Cemetery. And, since she had wanted to sit and talk to Mac from time to time, she had positioned a small concrete bench near the head of his grave. A couple of months later, it was gone. At the same cemetery, a man had placed a small American flag at the site where his paratrooper son rested. It, too, disappeared.
It took seemingly endless months to repair the sculpture. And unusually cold and wet weather further delayed its remounting. It’s back in place now and can be seen on the African Continent at the elephant overlook. You’ll know it. It’s a mother and baby elephant and the plaque reads, “In Memory of David Wayne Holt — Love, Mom, Dad and Mark.”
Did I rant and rave? Did I curse the person or persons who took it? At first. But, then I remembered that my grandmother had often said there was a special place in hell for people who did things like that.
I’m counting on it.
Contact Southern Pines writer Lois Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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