Have you ever lived alongside someone for years but not really known them? Then one day, like a crack of thunder, something in the universe shifts, and — surprise! You discover a depth that you never knew existed before?
I’ve lived in Fillmore for more than 20 years and only recently have I made a concerted effort to get to know more people. In the early years, I was busy taking care of the babies I was bringing into the world and, at the same time, apparently sending out free vittles signals to every critter in the country.
About three years ago, to spice up our lives, I invited a group of ladies over for tea and heard stories of how the town used to be. I discovered a hidden history. Who would’ve guessed Fillmorians held a Friday raffle, sported their own theater, and kept two grocery stores hopping?
I even attended a couple of meetings of the historical society and bought postcards of “Historical Fillmore”: A far more bustling world then, but still within living memory of many of these folks.
Last year, I was invited to become an election judge. Having no idea what that involved, I said, “Sure. I can help out.” Civic duty called. Election judge training was an eye-opener. I. Had. No. Idea.
It’s like when a woman becomes a mother for the first time and realizes somewhere deep in the innermost part of her being that she has vastly underestimated the three-letter word “Mom” for much too long.
So I saw our nation’s government in a blinding new light. I was absolutely astonished at the reality of how many good-hearted, hard-working, detail-orientated people it takes to make this whole thing work.
Early this year, I was asked by a neighbor to take over the secretary-treasurer position at the Fillmore Glendale Cemetery. First things first: I had to learn how to spell cemetery. Then I enjoyed the privilege of discovering how long and how well townsfolk have been caring for their deceased relatives’ graves. Other than being a backdrop for a horror flick or the place where deceased members of my family reside in quiet repose, I never gave any cemetery much thought.
How careless of me.
Cemeteries are run by people who care … and keep on caring. Making sure that the grass is mowed, flowers are prepared, paid for, and placed on the right grave. That families can find lost loved ones. That laws are followed and last intentions are carried out. That those who want to remember, grieve, or simply record someone’s last resting place can do so with dignity and in peace.
Quite frankly, I don’t know what I’ll learn about my small town next, but having glimpsed its deeper dimensions, I’ll keep my eyes open. After all, a town is made of people. And people surprise me.
Copyright 2020 Ann K. Frailey