A cemetery puzzlement – where’s the stone?

It is amazing now that we didn’t smash our heads into the trees, riding those crooked trails.

When my sister Leslie and I were in Binghamton in early October, we decided to go visit a couple grave sites. Frankly, it’s not something I do all that often, but since my sibling hardly ever gets to this side of the country, I decided that it’d be interesting.

First, we went to Floral Park Cemetery in nearby Johnson City, not very far from where our family moved to during my freshman year in college. I had found my paternal grandmother Agatha Green’s grave in 2013, and I was certain that I could discover it again. We traipsed through the entirety of Section M, but neither of us could find it.

Yet we were indeed in the right place. I showed her the nearby headstones of her father Samuel Walker, who I remember. He died in 1963, only a year before Agatha, a fact I had forgotten. It was also the location for the grave of Agatha’s brother Earl (1904 – 1961) – him I also recall; and his sister Melissa Walker Jackson (1914-1955), who I remember only in photos. Most mysterious.

Then we were onto Spring Forest Cemetery in the First Ward of Binghamton, my part of town growing up. We used to sled in there, back in the day. It is amazing now that we didn’t smash our heads into the trees, riding those crooked trails. We also would cut across the cemetery to play baseball at Ansco field.

We easily found the gravestone of Lilian Yates Holland, my maternal grandmother’s mother, her her son Ed Yates’, and a couple people named Archer, who are related to us in some fashion.

Peculiarly, there has never been a marker for either my maternal grandmother, Gertrude Yates Williams, who died on Super Bowl Sunday 1982, or her sister Adenia, who died in the mid-1960s, and are buried in the same section. My sisters and I have decided to rectify this in the coming year, though we also said that LAST year.

To quote Bullwinkle J. Moose, “This time for sure!”

Dad’s grave

My dad wasn’t much on that type of sentimentality.

Visiting the gravesites, beyond the limits of geography, is a very personal preference, I believe. I don’t think I’ve visited my dad’s grave more than two or three times. Of course, when he first died, on this date in 2000, the headstone wasn’t ready.

I know I made at least one trip, maybe two, to the military cemetery 40 miles north of Charlotte, NC, with my mother and at least the sister who lives in North Carolina, and very likely, her daughter.

The last time, I’m sure, was when my mother died in 2011. Both of my sisters and their daughters, my wife and MY daughter all attended the burial. She’s interred next to dad, and the headstone has now been replaced to represent both of them, with information on each side. I’ve actually never seen mom’s side of the headstone, except in photographs.


But my dad wasn’t much on that type of sentimentality. His mom died in the early 1960s, about a decade before he moved from Binghamton, NY to North Carolina. I have no recollection of taking us to visit her grave in the Floral Avenue Cemetery in Johnson City, NY. And I just can’t imagine him going on his own.

Indeed, I didn’t even remember – or more correctly, misremembered – where she was buried until about three years ago, which I wrote about.

Spring Forest Cemetery in Binghamton I went by virtually every single weekday growing up. It’s three or four blocks from the house I grew up in, and even closer to my maternal grandmother’s house, where I went each school day for lunch. we used to cut through the cemetery to play baseball at Ansco field.

My paternal grandfather died in 1980, and he’s buried in Spring Forest, or at least I think so. I doubt my father ever made a trek up to Binghamton to visit the grave.

So I guess I’m trying to make myself feel less guilty – guilty may be overstating it – about not going to what is now my parents’ gravesite. I DO have pictures.

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