Out of the blue, a couple of weeks ago I received an email from the lawyer who’d handled my father’s estate. I haven’t communicated with her in a long time, not since things were finally settled. She was writing to tell me the company my parents once owned and operated was renovating the landscaping, and they were asking if I wanted the plaque from a memorial stone my father had erected following my mother’s death over 20 years ago.
Frankly, I’d forgotten all about the stone. I haven’t been back to the former company offices since before my mom died. But when Jo, the attorney, asked me about wanting the plaque, instantly I thought, no, I really would like the whole stone, too.
I knew it seemed a bit crazy when I thought it. I mean, it’s rock. You can see how big it is in the picture above. But to have just the plaque that read, “memory rock,” felt somehow disingenuous.
So I wrote back to Jo, chatting a bit with her about how we’d both been over the years, and asked tentatively what she thought about helping me have the entire memorial shipped here to upstate New York. Since the stone is back in Missouri (where I’m originally from), I would need help getting shipping quotes from local companies.
The cost could be too much, of course, but I figured I had to see.
I realize it is, or would be a huge effort to acquire such a thing, unearth it and haul it halfway across the country. And I know, because I made the same journey myself. I envisioned the stone strapped to the open bed of an 18-wheeler, countryside rushing by, drivers staring as it passed through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, across the tip of Pennsylvania, and into the edge of New York state, Niagra Falls thundering not far off in the distance.
It seemed possible then, an almost epic journey I felt needed to be made. This giant rock, a rough and monumental kind of thing, making its way back to me, following the same path I took a long time ago.
And it belonged to my mother. Or at least, it was for her. I have so few things of hers, that represent her, this stone seems like something I just can’t leave behind.
I still have many of my father’s belongings. I struggle at times to decide what to do with them all, and question even why I kept them in the first place. It seems ironic to me that I would only be adding to my collection with the memory rock, one I don’t yet fully understand why I maintain. I had difficulties with my father growing up, challenges (alcohol among them) that were often very painful and led to us being intimate strangers for most of my life.
But still, I have his stuff. I think maybe I’m hanging on to tangible objects, surrounding myself with memories now in place of living parents. Anyway, I’m working on the issue…
This stone would eclipse everything of my dad’s, however, both in size and scope. It’s as if my mom’s bell collection I recently put on display in my house isn’t enough. Now she wants me to have this rock, too.
It had also meant a great deal to my dad I knew, to have the stone erected. I imagined his disappointment at the rock being torn out after all this time, plaque removed, and then trucked away by a bulldozer to lay in some forgotten corner of the grounds. I don’t think I could let that happen, if it’s at all financially possible for me. Even though they are both long dead, it just somehow seems like I would be letting both my parents down if I didn’t try.
Getting the memory rock to New York would only be half the battle, of course. If I can somehow bring it here, to my home, the question then becomes, where do I put it? And, how do I get it over there? It’s a grim kind of thing, I know, not your typical garden ornament that gets put in the front yard. It would have to go somewhere appropriate, special, sort of private, I guess –and definitely somewhere permanent.
Which also brings to mind that having the rock then becomes a commitment for me, too. It means I stay here– no moving, no leaving, no heading off to another coast. It means this house is where I stay, too. At least for a very long time, or until I get a tractor with a bucket loader (which would be a great help for a lot of things around here)…
Currently Jo is checking on quotes for me. She’s acting on my behalf now, working with the company to try and keep the stone safe until I can decide if I can afford its transport or not. And even if it is too much for me to have it shipped up here, I will ask for the plaque or have the stone moved possibly to where my parents are buried back in Missouri. That will be the best I can do.
But I’m thinking somehow it will work out. I’m thinking maybe it’s a sign from the universe for me to stop moving, stop rolling along like a stone on its way down a hillside. Maybe it’s time to stay, and gather some moss of my own.
I've never really liked labels: I am this, I am that... But in the interest of introducing myself to the world, I can say that I am many things: nurse, writer, photographer, poet, painter, gardener, friend, armchair philosopher, counselor, nature lover, real-estate aficionado, movie buff, sometime yogi, and aspiring world-traveler. I think that's a pretty good list... for now. I want to become a bigger part of the vital, creative force I feel deeply at work in the world and connect with other people who want to do the same.