Monday, May 25, 2015

Around the Bend and Into the Past...


I know most of us believe in the term "Serendipity".


ser·en·dip·i·ty
ˌserənˈdipədē/
noun
  1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
    "a fortunate stroke of serendipity"
    synonyms:(happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke
    luck, good luck, good fortune,fortuityprovidence
    happy coincidence
    "the consequence of serendipity is sometimes a brilliant discovery"


This little occurrence by chance wasn't by chance at all,
and it started for me about 23 years ago.




A few weekends ago, we were on a drive to the west, actually we'd been to Joplin to check out some campers (more on that later).  We were heading home on the Interstate when my husband felt a little spider on his arm. He went into contortions trying to get the little furry critter off of him and finally I said, "Pull off at this exit, before we have more problems than locating a little spider." So we took the next exit and found a gravel turnoff.




He jumped out of the car and searched high and low, but couldn't locate the big bad spider; it was nowhere to be found. When he pulled out of the gravel road he said, "Well, let's take the "scenic route" back and stay off the Interstate". No sooner than we got back onto the smaller 2 lane highway that was headed through some picturesque farmland, than something caught my eye and caused me to have that "deja vu" feeling. I let him drive a bit, but said. "You know, that spot back there reminds me of an old cemetery we visited quite awhile back. The girls were little, and I came with my mom and dad." So we turned around and headed back.


Now, I'm going to let you in on a little "joke". 
One of those "ha ha" jokes that has always annoyed me, 
and I'd say, "yea, yea. funny, funny".
My maiden name is "Tolliver" and my married name is "Oliver".
uh huh...
what a coincidence...





When I met my husband I knew we were destined to live with this silliness. I've always joked, "Oliver Tolliver from Bolivar". Bolivar is a small town to our NW, and no, I'm not from there.

But my mom and dad's family are both from Mount Vernon, Missouri, although they didn't live there at the same time. It's a rural small town between Springfield and Joplin. My dad's people had owned a large farm and property back before the Civil War, and after he (the owner) was killed in the war, the property was illegally seized by no gooders. "Carpet Baggers", they used to call them. Think "Gone With the Wind". Anyway, the farm property and home are long gone, but the family cemetery is still here. 

These kind of family cemeteries were usually on the property
 and were for family and extended family only.

The headstone below is one from the last 50 years, 
put there to replace an original, all the rest are before 1900.
The earliest date we could make out was 1818.



All of the headstones are from the Civil War Era, 
and some are so worn down by the elements they are unreadable.


But the little cemetery itself was kept up and mowed, and the most amazing Peony bushes had been planted near the markers. They were just ready to bloom, and I wish I'd been there just a few days later to see them in their glory.


We, like so many families in this area, had members die in the Civil War, and even a story of 2 brothers who fought on opposite sides. You've heard of the "Mason-Dixon Line", which in Missouri, was a cultural boundery between North and South. Missouri was one of the states that was divided. The southern counties fought with the Confederacy, and the northern with the Union. But many families had strong cultural and political ties that were not to be easily broken. 











This is my favorite pic of the afternoon. 
The sky is gray and brooding over the farmland,
 which I imagine was once part of my family's property.





My grandfather changed the spelling of our last name, adding another "L", making it easier to pronounce. "Tall"iver, instead of guessing at "Toe"-liver. There was a time when every TV western and movie had at least one bad guy or horse thief named "Toliver". so lovely.





If I would have been trying to find this I never would have. My mom didn't remember where it was located. Once the Interstate went through we didn't need to take that smaller highway any longer. So that's how a little spider and some serendipity gave me a really wonderful memory and blessing. I know it was not just a coincidence, because I prefer to think God was giving me that blessing, Himself. He's like that, you know.

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