On the road… again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
These Stones Will Never Wilt
Whenever we return to the Netcong, New Jersey area to visit, my wife Thu and I make a visit to Stanhope Union Cemetery as part of the agenda. That is where my mother and father are buried, side by side. Brother Joe rests in the shadow of their grey granite headstone; in front and looking up at their polished granite inscriptions. Brother Ronny Pellek is buried further back in a newer part of the cemetery but is able to look down a straight line (at the 10 o'clock bearing) over the tops of other headstones to see where they are. The geometry and the circumstances are incidental, but they are the realities.
The small stones and embedded rock shards are obscured by flowers, but look closely to see four of them
In past visits to the graves of our loved ones, we almost always brought live perennial flowers to plant in front or astride of the headstones. Unfortunately, even the hearty perennials failed to survive the harsh winters of the Netcong-Stanhope area. Subsequently, we took to bringing fresh cut flowers, knowing that they would too soon wither and die. Added to the short life span of the flowers, was the fact that cemetery employees eventually disposed of them; or ground them up in the blades of lawn mowers.
If you visit Stanhope Union Cemetery these days and stand in front of the granite headstone of John T. Pellek and Helen M. Best Pellek, you will see at ground level, a line of small and medium sized stones of different shapes and colors. You will see small fragments of gneiss, pink granite, sandstone, limestone, green granite, conglomerate, quartz, and red shale. They are the kind of flowers that do not wilt. They are the gems that were part of the trove of stony debris of the Wisconsin Glacier that remained for 25,000 years in the terminal moraine just outside the kitchen window of the house where John and Helen Pellek lived out their last days. It was Thu’s idea to plant the stones in the cemetery next to the headstone. These flowers will not wither or wilt. They will remain as eternal sentinels and reminders of the distant and not so distant past.
In addition to the line of stone shards buried in front of the headstone, we have taken to placing a few small stones on top of the granite marker. Notice a small piece of gneiss and a sample of granite in the photo above. Both came from the same terminal moraine trove of boulders behind their house. Most recently, we augmented them with a few others: green granite, gneiss, shale, and conglomerate. More sturdy guards to stand watch.