It always seemed so creepy to me for a person to get their grave headstone carved in advance—name, birthdate, a dash, and a blank spot for the death date. However, after a visit to the cemetery with Aunt Treva, I felt differently.
I asked my great-aunt if she would be my guide on a historical tour through the Germantown Cemetery in Germantown, Ohio. I knew many of my ancestors were buried there. I was especially interested in locating the grave of Isaac Selby, my great-great-grandfather. I had chosen the name Isaac for my own son from the family tree and wanted a picture of Isaac Selby’s grave for his baby book.
“Sure!” Aunt Treva responded, full of energy and enthusiasm, as usual. “I enjoy visiting the cemetery. I have more friends and family there than I do in town.” I could tell she was being playful, yet I realized at age eighty-four, she was also speaking truth.
When we arrived in the cemetery, we parked the van along a lane located near the Selby plot. Then we meandered on foot from headstone to headstone. What fun it was to bring each person back to life with stories from Aunt Treva’s memories. We found Isaac Selby—Aunt Treva told how her grandpa had served in the Civil War; his wife Nancy had received one dollar per day compensation after his death for his military service. He had sandy red hair and a mustache.
I had a few wonderful memories of my own. At my Great-Grandma Selby’s grave (Treva’s mother), I recalled spending many nights with her, walking to the dime store together, playing Parcheesi and Old Maid, and eating homemade waffles with homemade syrup. At my Grandpa Chip’s grave (Treva’s brother), I reminisced about him being a champion boxer, growing up next door to him, and how I still missed him very much.
But the highlight of the tour by far was discovering a headstone with the name “Treva Buchholzer” on it. Below the name was the year 1910, followed by a dash and a blank spot.
“Does that not feel strange to you to read your own headstone?” I questioned.
“Not a bit!” Aunt Treva exclaimed. “You want to take a picture?” She plopped down on her headstone with a huge smile and posed with a “thumbs up.”
I shook my head in amazement and snapped a picture. “I love you, Aunt Treva. I want to be just like you when I’m eighty-four.”
“Hey, do you want me to lay down so you’ll know how I’m going to look?” she asked.
“NO! PLEASE DON’T!” I yelled. We both laughed really loud and then moved on to the next Selby headstone.
What is your attitude toward death?
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 NIV).
*Author’s Note: Aunt Treva went to heaven on October 19, 2001 at the age of ninety-one. She surpassed her goal of living to the year 2000.