The Ghosts of Oakdale, pt. 1

“The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley

Founded in 1852, Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington was the first planned, rural cemetery in North Carolina. Much like its sister cemeteries of Magnolia in Charleston, and Bonaventure in Savannah, Oakdale is a winding necropolis full of Spanish moss, alluring angels, and gorgeous flowering trees and shrubs that just begs to be explored and adored. Meant to be both garden and graveyard, this large, rural cemetery mixes the beauty of life with that of death and mourning. In the era of its conception, Victorian North Carolinians often spent many an afternoon relaxing in Oakdale with loved ones living and long gone, picnicking and reminiscing, and the cemetery became so popular that families paid to have their long-deceased loved ones relocated to its beautiful grounds.

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Mourning in the Digital Age (pt. 3/3)

I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead- . He is just away!
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.

–James Whitcomb Riley, Away

In late June of 2008, a mere three weeks after I underwent lifesaving surgery, I arrived at the local college campus to meet with someone I had only spoken with on the phone, a man named Jonathan. I was determined to completely derail my career and switch majors from elementary education to veterinary medicine, and he was the last roadblock standing in my way. I had filled out all the forms, dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s, but there was the problem of me being wait listed, as the program only had 64 seats. This “Jonathan” was going to get me into the program whether he wanted to or not.

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Reflections on a Past Life

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

— Charles Dickens

I sit here on a suspiciously warm February night, finally taking time to write down all of the reflection and introspection that I have been diligently undertaking over the past few months. My house is a wreck; boxes stacked everywhere as I try to combine two homes into one. To merge all the “stuff” from a past life into a new one that has barely taken wing. Yet, here I sit, because I can’t stop the thoughts from overflowing with every box I empty, every dish put away. By the by? I might have an addiction to coffee mugs and someone needs to help me. It’s normal for one girl to have over 50 mugs, right? Right?Read More »

The Ballad of Gary Lee

Every woman is a rebel, and usually in wild revolt against herself.

-Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Not long ago, I shared with you the rediscovery of some old family photographs, including the memento mori of my great-uncle, Gary Lee. In that box of photographs, news clippings, and letters, I found not just the only pictures to exist of this little soul, but also a family story, and a dark secret. This is possibly scandal enough for the likes of Savannah, much less a little one-light town in North Carolina. You know Mayberry? Alright, well think even smaller and you get Broadway.

It all started in the late 1920s with my great-grandparents, Holton and Hermie…
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Memento Mori

At sunset, the little soul that had come with the dawning went away, leaving heartbreak behind it.   -L. M. Montgomery

The hurricane brought with it all of the expected hardships: wind, rain, flooding, downed trees, power outages. For me, it also brought a unique opportunity to look for old family photographs as I attempted to stave off the mounting cabin fever. And so it was, with the kiddo safely ensconced with his grandmother, I set out to my maternal great-grandmother’s house to raid the attic. Though I only had to run across the street, the relentless rain had me soaked in 10 seconds flat. I didn’t care; I was on a mission.

I was dead set on finding a specific box of photographs that I had not seen for some 20 years. Spurred into action by a friend’s Instagram post on the subject, I knew I had to find one photograph in particular: a 1933 photograph, hand painted in delicate blue and pale pink hues. I had no hope of knowing whether the pictures would still be there; the house had undergone a few renovations and cleanings since I last laid eyes on the dusty cardboard box which I now sought.

(warning: post contains morbid imagery after the jump)

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