Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: The Runyans of Rose Hill

It's been 33 years since I've been out to the Rose Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Tampa, Florida to see the tombstones of my maternal grandparents. I have no excuse for this neglect as I only live about 20 miles from there, and I dearly loved my grandmother and granddaddy. My mother's sister was buried with them, but I didn't know Aunt Lela. My brothers and I didn't even know she existed until we were in our 20s. But that's another story. 

I had photos of the stones taken by my mother after Aunt Lela died in 1996 but they were bad photos and I've wanted to get out there and get new ones to post to their FindAGrave.com memorials.  I finally did that yesterday. I called ahead to Rose Hill and they said they'd place an orange cone at the stones and to come into the office and someone would show us on the wall map where to go, maybe even lead us over if someone was available, but as soon as we drove through the entrance I knew where they were, even after 33 years. I knew all along that I would remember.

First, my grandmother died and I remember being at Rose Hill for the burial. I was not quite 20 years old and it was the first funeral I'd ever been to. Then, I was a new mother and my granddad died. My son was 7 months old. I was glad Granddaddy got to see and hold (and nearly drop) his first great grandchild. I remember going to the funeral home and seeing him there in the casket and thinking..."This is the first dead person I've ever actually seen."...and I squeezed his hand. I don't remember his burial for some reason, but I know I was there.

Lawrence Everett Runyan
born St. Patrick's Day 1893 - died Thanksgiving Day 1978

Then, 18 years later, my mother got the call that her sister Lela had passed away. Mom had to be responsible for having Lela's cremains shipped to Tampa from Indiana and all the arrangements for her burial. There was no one to help her with the decision making. No one to discuss Lela with. Not even Dad really, because he never knew Lela either.

I don't remember what my grandmother's original stone looked like. Maybe it wasn't much. I'm not sure why Mom decided to have a new stone made with her mother and sister together. I wish I could ask her about that, but I guess I'll never know that story.

Mary Fern Runyan 1893-1972 ~ Lela Custer Runyan 1918-1996

I'm glad I made it out to Rose Hill finally. I didn't know that writing this blog post would make me feel so sad though.

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