When we laid Mama to rest in 1967, I walked away from her gravesite and never returned. The grave was a reminder of suffering and dying; and I wanted to hold on to memories of Mama being healthy and alive. The years passed and the memories of suffering and dying faded.
Last year, I decided it was time to return to Mama’s gravesite; and, I shared why in a post on October 21 2016, “Lost Memories of Mama.
On July 5, 2016, along with hubby, son and two cousins, I visited Mama’s grave for the first time since her burial more than forty-eight years ago.
I planned for a prayer and viewing of the purchased headstone. What a surprise to learn that my sister/cousin, Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Eloby Fleming had written an Unveiling of the Headstone Program. She was able to do this without my input. We were the daughters of two sisters, raised together as sisters, and she knew my Mama’s life story.
After sharing Words of Commemoration and leading us in reciting the 23rd Psalm, my sister/cousin read the written Statement of Purpose:
“We now fondly dedicate this headstone to the loving and blessed memory of Onetha Outlaw Burks realizing that her remains lie not only in this plot of ground but in every heart her life did touch.
We are grateful for the years we were privileged to share with her — years when she brought us so many pleasures and taught us so very much by example. Years in which she gave her best and established the foundation upon which her sisters, brothers, child, grandchildren, son-in-law, family and friends stand.
As an African people, we believe that three generations are always present — the past, present and future. Our ancestors never leave us. Onetha lives on even though her physical body is not in our midst. We know that she will never leave our hearts and spirits where she continues to bless us and future generations forever.
Her spirit is with us today!”
For years, I carried a heavy burden without realizing the heaviness. I have released the guilt of staying away from Mama’s gravesite for so many years. I have recaptured the lost memories. I mourn in peace rather than fear. I will continue, for the remainder of my life, to honor Mama in death as I did during her lifetime.
Thanks to Hubby, children, grands, and cousins, for your love and support throughout this journey.