Courtesy For Cemetery Workers & Volunteers
This Memorial Day weekend, I have gone to several cemeteries to decorate graves of loved ones & many of my ancestors. In Owensboro, I was surprised that a person had called ahead for the cemetery staff to look for the location of the grave he wanted to visit. I thought that sure was a good idea for him and the staff. I mentioned that to Chris Cooke at Evansville's Oak Hill Cemetery. Chris stated that it really helps him & the staff to look things up when they are not busy and then have it all waiting for the person when they arrive. At Owensboro they told me that some people request 20 grave locations at once and expect them to stop whatever they are doing and take them to each grave - they can not take that much time with photographers for Find-A-Grave or even genealogists. Most cemetery employees are happy to help you find the graves of your loved ones and even an ancestor or two, but remember that they have other work to do, as well, and in most cases it is preparation for a funeral or cemetery grounds maintenance. They maintain the grounds, inter the remains of the deceased, and maintain the cemetery records. Unfortunately, cemetery superintendents/managers have to deal with vandalism far more than what most of us might imagine.
The main thing is be courteous to these employees/volunteers at the cemetery... during holidays like Memorial Day, these people have to work! I have found that even if the person you deal with is not being friendly or seems aggravated that you are bothering them, that if you try to be nice & friendly - they will help you more. In Owensboro on Friday, the manager actually took me out to the unmarked grave of my grandfather's after I had searched and was not sure where it was. I had been friendly and they knew I had tried on my own first.
Sometimes, Mother Nature or Father Time causes deterioration or damage to tombstones or grave sites (let alone vandals). But, in these cases, it is not the cemetery's staff to blame. If it has been raining everyday for 2 weeks, the grass will not be well groomed. If there was a hard rain the night before, there will be mud on markers and possibly partial sunken graves. A heavy wind storm will break-off limbs all through the cemetery. Workers appreciate you letting them know where the problems are, but generally, they will not be able to run and take care of it immediately.
These past 4-5 days I went through 7 cemeteries... and I saw limbs down, mud on top of the flat markers, standing water in flat & low areas and grass that was a lot higher than I like to wade through. However, we have had some very bad weather conditions for quite some time. Grounds crews were on mowers flying around leaving tire tracks in the rain-soaked ground in an attempt to mow down the grass! You could hear or see crews using chain saws cutting up large fallen trees & limbs. Tough time to show-off the cemetery grounds after all of the rain & high winds in the tri-state area. I saw some really bad spots that mud covered several markers completely. And, if that was my Mother's grave, I would be upset; however, it is not the cemetery's fault - Mother Nature gets the blame. I could go to the office and put in a polite work request to have the mud cleaned off at there convenience... I might ask them to email me when they get it done so I could return to pay my respects.
We generally go to cemeteries to show our respect for our lost loved ones, please show some respect to those who work to maintain their final resting place.
- Written by JGWest