Rest In Peace
Hettie Wasilew died on a Friday afternoon in 1923 and as far as her family knew, no one visited her grave for more
than fifty years. But the old caretaker at the cemetery and later his son and still later the son's son knew
different. Every September twenty-second, regular as seasons rolling in and rolling out, an enormous pot of
azaleas appeared next to Hettie's headstone. Clusters of pink flowers would cascade over the cold slab and
obscure the words etched into the marble.
"Here lies Hettie Wasilew, a wanton woman. She disgraced her family, shamed her husband and left her children all alone."
Hardly the truth but Hettie's preacher husband even fictionalized the Bible on occasion. Farmer named Boggs
used to watch Hettie struggle to be invisible on that front pew, all swallowed in brown cotton and fear.
Maybe those azaleas were meant to commemorate the one bright dress Hettie ever owned. She wore it the day
she died, the day a pitchfork fell from the hayloft at the livery and pierced her heart. She'd just saddled
a little brown mare and slung a small satchel onto its back.
Those flowers stopped coming the year old Boggs finally passed away. But the funny thing was, the last pot took
root and every spring since, the caretakers have hand clipped around that stone and spared those little flowers.
First published: November, 2006
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