Monday, May 30, 2011


A great number of my husband's family are buried at Highlawn Cemetery. Close to his family's graves is the grave of Brenda Lee Chandler. She was born in 1957 and died in 1988. I had noticed the grave for years and loved the inscription, "Our Rose Blooms Forever".

One Mother's Day in the 1990s we went to place flowers on Gerald's mother's grave and the cemetery was in a shameful condition with grass grown several inches high. The company which owned the cemetery was bankrupt and the cemetery was in receivership with a bank. That day there was an older man with a mower and he was mowing around the grave of Brenda Lee Chandler and there were two young children with him. As he lovingly weeded around her grave, he heard me tell my husband that I was going to complain to the bank and that the cemetery better be in decent shape by Memorial Day. John Chandler began talking to me and said he would appreciate my calling the bank. He asked if we would like for him to mow around the graves of my husband's family. My husband took the mower and did the mowing.

Mr. Chandler and I continued talking and I asked, "I've always wondered if your daughter was named after the singer Brenda Lee?" He laughed and said yes and that he and his wife had always loved Brenda Lee. He told me about his daughter and their family.

For several years we saw each other on the Sunday before Memorial Day as we placed our flowers on the graves. He mentioned that there were three generations of Chandlers buried there.

One year I noticed there were no flowers on Brenda Lee's grave and there was a new gravesite with no marker. I went to the caretaker and asked if Brenda's father had died and I asked if there would be a flag on his grave as I recalled that he was a World War II veteran.

I still place flowers on Brenda Lee's grave, a person I never knew, but who still touched my life.


Mona Lisa said...

Only YOU make friends in cemeteries!

Bethany Rheinscheld said...

This story touched me more than you can imagine. My sister in law April met you today and steered me in this direction. Brenda Lee was my aunt and John Chandler was my grand father. The children you saw with him were my brother and I. We would love to share with you some of our memories and a photo if you would like. She was an amazing woman and you carried on a tradition that was so important to my grandpa. We couldn't be more thankful.