Sleeping With My Ancestors
In this pretty section of Forest Lawn Cemetery, my sister is sleeping in the embrace of our family. Tombstones with the family names Hoover and Todd are everywhere. We laid my sister to rest May 4, 2021.
Cherry Hoover Harrelson was the last living connection to my childhood family. You see, my Dad died on Christmas Day 1963. My grandfather Hoover passed before I was born. Grandmother Hoover was laid to rest here in 1978. My Mother passed in 2009. And now, my only sibling, is gone.
She was the kindest, sweetest soul I ever knew. I’m not sure I ever heard an angry word from her, even when this annoying little brother was aggravating her.
I was six years younger and poles apart from her. That age difference meant we grew up in different families. So, our experiences made us so dissimilar. Despite that, I knew she loved me. And I her.
She graduated high school in 1964, went to work, got married and lived near Mother.
I went into the service, off to college, and then back home to work as a journalist. I got married and moved 20 miles way from my old neighborhood, which was on the land my ancestors had plowed for generations.
Our paths diverged even more. But I tried to stay connected.
I have always hosted the family for the holidays. She always came. Even after Mother passed, Cherry and her family continued to join us for these holiday gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. But this was not to last.
About three years ago, her neuralgia worsened, hampering her ability to go anywhere. So, I didn’t see her as much.
Then, COVID locked down everything. She was in and out of the hospital and I wasn’t able to see her at all. For that, I am sorry. I didn’t get to say goodbye.
But I know that she is beyond the constant pain now that had hounded her for so long. This is a comfort in my time of grief.
Those of us left behind have our memories of my sweet sister.
When it’s time for my permanent soul to leave behind this temporary body, I’ll happily go into the embrace of my family, reunited on that shady hill in Forest Lawn. Until then, I look forward to saying hello to my sister.
As I, too, go to sleep with my ancestors.