Blasting Fireworks in the Cemetery
It always honors me when friends like Alice let me participate in family traditions. The cemetery fireworks for Eva Fair Guess (b. 1916; d. 1986) are the closest I’ll ever come to knowing a woman who must’ve been a spit-fire.
The cemetery where she’s buried is near Alice’s childhood Tara in Denmark, South Carolina. Situated on a quiet country road, this old, lovingly maintained place is one giant rectangle clear cut from the surrounding forest.
In the rapidly fading light, we pulled into the cemetery on the 4rd of July, with me noting all of the “Guess” monuments scattered here and there. They whispered: “guess who I was?”; “guess what I did with my life?”; “guess where you’ll be before you know it?”.
We parked behind Eva’s tombstone. She loved the 4th of July, and every year the family visits her grave to blast Roman candles in her honor. One by one, we took a turn in honoring a woman they loved by giving her something colorful, explosive and lively. As the light faded, the hues grew richer, and the noise mingled with the crickets and tree frogs to form a symphony in her honor.
When I imagine Eva, I hear belting laughter behind the staccato bursts in the sky. She must’ve been as colorful, explosive and lively as the tradition she’s inspired. As we finished, one by one they left the spent Roman candle holder on her grave in the form of a cross. Lain lovingly on the ground, those cylinders strung together surpassed spent leftovers; they became a more winning tribute than flowers ever could, and a gentle reminder to us that life is fleeting.
Thanks to Alice, Eva is someone I wish I could’ve known. I hope I do her proud by living life in blasts of resplendent color and light.
This post is part of a series that celebrates my friendship with Alice Guess as she moves to Baton Rouge, LA. If this is your first visit, please click here and read forward. Thank you for reading and sharing your stories here.