As a kid, my dad taught me to love a corny joke. Once when we passed a cemetery, he said, “Must be nice.” “Why do you say that, Dad?” I’d naively asked. “Because …
As a kid, my dad taught me to love a corny joke. Once when we passed a cemetery, he said, “Must be nice.”
“Why do you say that, Dad?” I’d naively asked.
“Because people are dying to get in there.”
And I laughed, feeling as though I had the wittiest dad in the world.
I think of my father when I ponder the fact that Narrowsburg has not just one, but two cemeteries. Since the population of town, according to the last census, was 431, it is entirely possible that there are more departed residents than living residents in Narrowsburg, NY.
Not only are people dying to get in here—they’re fixing to stay for the long haul.
Fannie Flagg’s novel, “The Whole Town’s Talking,” is set in a cemetery. Its residents, including the founder—a war veteran, like my dad, waiting to be reunited with his true love—and a spinster school teacher watch over the people and village they love from a gentle slope on the outskirts of town. It’s a comforting thought: The dead still care. They’re still invested.
Some of the graves in the Glen Cove Cemetery on Kirks Road predate the Civil War; they were dropped off by horse and wagon. Today, cars rush by on their way to the carwash on the northern border of their eternal resting place. The interred can struggle to remember the taste of freshly baked bread as they watch hungry diners head over to Gerard’s Café. They can laugh as they watch motorists curse rising gas prices. I mean, after all, what do they care?
They can celebrate when the population of 431 becomes 432, thanks to the birth of a new baby. They can watch Nora’s reopen each spring. They watch our tiny town continue to evolve.
The residents of the cemetery at St. Francis Xavier on Bridge Street can keep an eye on their relatives and make sure they’re still going to services on Sunday morning. From their vantage, one of the highest in Narrowsburg, they watched the school become The Union. They monitor changing car styles as Ben and Kathleen Johnson park new vehicles in front of their business. They can smile as a new couple walks into the Narrowsburg Inn on a first date.
Dads, no longer with us, can enjoy a quiet visit with their children this Sunday on Father’s Day. So, here’s to all the patriarchs—past, present and future—on their special holiday. May all of you who still have a dad enjoy a wonderful day celebrating him. For those of us who don’t, perhaps a corny joke and a smile will lessen the pang of missing him.