I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to walk my dogs, especially if the weather is nice. Maybe I’m weird, but I also LOVE to walk through old cemeteries. Frequently, I combine the two and walk my dogs through old cemeteries. I’m down like that.
I love to learn about history and cemeteries provide a heaping handful of education. For example, did you know that there is a large Irish population dating back into the mid 1800’s buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in downtown Augusta? The old grave markers are gorgeous as well.
Likewise, I enjoy walking through some of the relatively newer cemeteries. Bellevue Memorial Gardens in Grovetown is very nice. There are a lot of Newman’s buried there. A LOT! As well, some high school friends now reside there, and I like to check in on them. One friend passed in 1991, and it’s hard to believe he has been gone that long.
Last summer, the dogs and I were enjoying a stroll through Bellevue when we encountered an elderly man. As meticulous as the grounds are, he was weed eating around a loved one’s marker. There are various sidewalks that cut through the cemetery, but we don’t always stay on those. We browse the markers, going up and down the grassy rows. It’s really a lovely place.
After walking and browsing for a little while, I noticed that the elderly man had gotten into his truck and was parked on the curb with his window rolled down, as if waiting for me to walk by. As we approached, he began to yell at me – for being disrespectful and walking dogs in the cemetery around the final resting places of loved ones.
It was at that moment that I had a choice to make. Sadly, I made the wrong choice and quickly reprimanded him for berating me and my dogs. After he had taken down my tag number, professing to call the cops on me, and driven away, I rethought my hasty response.
Not everyone is an animal lover. Not everyone wants dogs to come visit their grave. And not everyone understands that I am not being disrespectful by walking my dogs amongst the dearly departed.
I never let my dogs potty in the cemetery. They potty at home before we ever leave. They don’t eat the flowers. We never walk near an ongoing funeral (often I will avoid the park altogether if I spot a funeral). And we never approach mourners, although we have had a few people want to chat, kindly, with us on our walk.
Bellevue, thankfully, understands that most people want to spend eternity with their pets. They are like our own babies, after all. So, they erected an entire granite structure solely for the purpose of entombing the remains of our animal friends. When Abbey passed away just over a year ago, I had Bellevue cremate her for me. Abbey remains a big part of the family. She has a place of honor in a very nice urn atop the sofa table. I can’t part with her ashes. However, I certainly appreciate that there are those who want to intern their animal babies closer to the area where they themselves will someday be resting.
I’d like to apologize for raising my voice to the elderly man who berated me in front of my dogs (I had to cover their little ears). Bellevue does allow pets on leashes in their park. His verbal attack kept me from reacting reasonably. But if he is reading this, I hope he will understand that love makes the world go ‘round. I love my dogs and they will always be with me – whether we are on a walk in life, or on a journey in death.
For more information on Augusta’s cemeteries, please visit www.augustaga.gov. And for more information on Bellevue’s Pet Columbarium, please contact Deborah Reeves at 706-863-2570. Or check out their website at www.bellevuememorial.com/pets.