Donna Louise here planning a flower garden. Next year I’ll have my own flowers to take to the cemetery.

As I trimmed the grass around the markers, car doors slam. I looked up to see a woman and six children walking to a fresh grave covered with flowers. The kids laughed and hollered like ill-bred ruffians. The mother screamed at them, but I couldn’t understand her. I returned to work washing and polishing the markers. Content, and one with the world, I sat back and marveled at the beauty of the scene.

A little boy, one of the six children, walked up. “Whatcha doin’?”

I love children—at a distance—preferably fifty feet or more away. They carry diseases. A friend has had every major childhood illness since she started assisting at a pre-school program.

But, the boy was polite. I acted as though he didn’t bother me. “I’m cleaning the gravestones.”


“Because that’s what I do on Memorial Day.”


Thus began the endless Hell of Why Questions. I wasn’t in the mood. Finally I looked at him and asked, “Why do you come here? To visit the graves of your grandparents?”

He stared at me. “That would be dumb. They’re alive.”

“Then do you decorate graves?”

“There’s no money in that.” He looked around.

 “You can’t make money here.”

 He nodded in agreement. “But we pick up things to sell on the street to people like you.”

Still not comprehending what he meant, I looked for his mother so I could send him back to her.

I saw her headed to their car with armloads of plastic flowers, wreaths, and arrangements followed by the other five kids similarly loaded down.

The little boy tapped my shoulder. “Lady, I gotta go. I don’t work; I don’t eat. It’s Mama’s rule.” He ran to a nearby grave and grabbed a wreath. He stopped a few plots away to pull up a cross. He waved. “Nice to meet you, lady.” He ran to join his family.

They all climbed in the getaway and car cruised over to Calvary Hill where the family scattered among the graves to harvest more plastic flowers.

I called 911. Within minutes the police arrived at the entrance. They spotted the woman and her children. With lights flashing and sirens blaring, they burned rubber. The good guys would catch the bad ones.