One of my main rules, especially when I’m photographing in a cemetery, is that I don’t touch or remove or rearrange anything.
But on September 2, 2020, I broke that rule.
When my dad was very old, living unhappily in an assisted living center, he prepared a list for me. It was titled Things I Want or Need or Both, and it included fourteen items. There were things he needed from the grocery store (“6. A box of some kind of crackers” and “7. 6 or 8 little ice cream cups”), a not-at-all subtle dig at the Affordable Care Act (“14. Do I really owe a sum of money to Covenant? Maybe this is my introduction to Obama’s ACA???”), the latest round in his ongoing battle with a nurse at the facility (“8. The return of my stolen Pill Minder”), and two things that absolutely broke my heart. The first one of these was “9. An answer to my daily morning prayer, ‘Dear God, please let this be the day you take me home.'”
And the second heart-breaking item was “4. A black and white kitten.”
And that’s why, when I saw this, I had to know whose grave was decorated with a cat.
It’s the final resting place of Lawrence Machlied (June 1, 1926 – April 17, 2003). Mr. Machlied, my dad, and black and white kittens were on my mind the rest of the day.
The Patient Spouse will be the second one to tell you that I am generally a terrible passenger on road trips. (I’d be the first, as I am well aware of the situation.) I get bored and fidgety. I get motion sickness if I try to read. Or if the road is too bumpy or curvy or if the driving is a little too aggressive. To my credit, though, I can play podcasts and music. And if I’m playing music, I can often offer important background information to the listener and some of that information may be in fact true. And also, to my credit, I am a really good navigator.
So, anyway, the PS and I were both more than a little worried that our vacation unexpectedly transformed itself from an easy flight to Spokane into a 4,000 mile road trip. I took ginger supplements and drank real-ginger ginger ale to combat the motion sickness. I didn’t even try to read. I found lots of important podcasts to listen to (let me know if you’d like any details about the history of miniature golf). I drove. But sometimes, I did still get fidgety. Like this moment, captured right here.
Weld County, Colorado
Scenes like this always get the attention of my photographic eye (you know that already, right?). There are so many stories here, and I can’t think that any of them had a very happy ending. The hand truck on the left side strikes me as the saddest part of this scene, but there are many things that are in second place.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho