I've been to several funerals and graveside services since I've been in OK. They're very different from funerals I've been to in TN, where I've been to probably more than a hundred funerals/services. I don't know if it's actually cultural differences or if it's the natural evolution these social events.
On my way back home I called Mom and asked her if she'd noticed some of these changes. My mother, bless her heart, frequently inhabits LaLa Land. But she did suggest, "Well, you know, you are from the Bible belt. It's different here."
This amuses me because OK thinks they are the Bible belt, too. So does KS. And WV. And probably every other state that has a rural area with an active church.
Claiming to be the from the "buckle of the Bible Belt" just doesn't have the same ring to it when you move somewhere and they're quick to tell you that, no, they had that imaginary designation.
But these are just observations, not really the story I wanted to tell. (However, if you, too, have noticed an evolution of funeral services, please let me know that I'm not going crazy.)
The service lasted a little over an hour. I wasn't really prepared to entertain Baby in my arms for that long. I took my sling and she was content to pull four plastic bead necklaces out of her little black purse, put them on, take them off, put them back in the purse, and repeat for what had to be 25 minutes. After that point she was done being held. I opened up my bag and gave her a snack, but she was ready to get down and run.
I pulled my baby leash out of the bag and strapped her in. We walked around behind the service (so not to be that much more of a distraction). I was secretly proud that she didn't want to pick all of the plastic flowers from the vases on the flat-to-the-ground headstones. Although I would have argued that she would've gotten more enjoyment out of plastic flowers than, say, dead people; we didn't have to have the "no, honey, that is disrespectful" conversation. She was content to walk around and dust off the leaves and dirt from the headstones.
About 25 yards away from where they were burying my friend's Dad there was a little white Mary statue. Baby saw it and led me over there. She was babbling and picking up leaves and doing her own thing. I was paying halfway attention and also reflecting on cultural differences and similarities in burying the people we love.
About that time we were over at the statue. She stopped and looked up at me. I looked at her. She said, "Babies?"
I looked down. She was right.
We were standing next to the statue of Mary, who was overlooking more than twenty infant graves.
"Yes, honey. These are the babies."
And she continued to play and dust their headstones from leaves and dirt.
This really jerked me out of my daydreams. How had she known? Although I'd like to think that she's brilliant and was doing the math on the headstones, I know that's not the case. I also know that there's no explanation. She just knew.
Like all things with a toddler - we moved on to play with something else, to walk in a different part of the cemetery. But several times in the next thirty minutes she'd look over to that area and point, "Babies?"
My boss and I carpooled to the service. After it was over I told her about the babies and she went pale and got big eyes, then changed the subject. I tried to bring it up again, but she didn't want to talk about it.
There were other infants buried in the cemetery - scattered in with everybody else. She didn't say anything else in particular about those graves. But she knew when they were all together.
That's my different and strange story for the day.