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The Prettiest Little Cemetery, Sweet Peaches and a Couple of Shoplifters

Josh and I had been dating about six months when he took me to Memphis to meet his grandparents. Sometime after lunch they were talking about Josh’s aunt and uncle who lived in Arkansas. One of his grandparents said, “We could just drive up there.” The other one agreed. Josh and I had no other plans so we all hopped in their brand new Oldsmobile and took the drive into the delta of Arkansas.

Granddad decided to take the “short cut” and since I’d never been to this part of Arkansas I had no idea if it was the shorter way or not. Looking back I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a short cut, but I was sitting in the back seat holding hands making googly eyes as a boy I liked so who cared if it was shorter.

At some point Granddad decides to drive us through this cemetery, which he declared to be the prettiest little cemetery he’d ever seen. He told us then he wanted to be buried there. He didn’t mention that seven years later when we would bury him we’d discover he already had a plot bought in a different cemetery. Luckily this day was about adventure and not death.

If you’ve ever driven through the delta of Arkansas in August, you’ve seen the bright yellow signs with PEACHES written in red type. Granddad had to stop and buy a couple of baskets of those peaches.

Finally, with the car smelling of peaches and the daily cemetery visit completed, we were on our way to Josh’s aunt’s shop. As we arrived, Josh’s grandparents giggled and said “Ya’ll go inside, and hold hands, and ask to look at wicker furniture. Hehehe.”

Grandma couldn’t stand it, she had to let us in on the joke, “They don’t sell wicker. Hehehe.”

All we heard was hold hands, we had that part under control. So we walked inside, his aunt greeted us and we walked toward the back. She asked if she can help us and we asked for the wicker. As she walked back to where we were, she took a good look at Josh and swatted him. “What are you doing? I thought you were a shoplifter!”

Evidently while we were browsing she was calling her husband who was at their house next door to come over quickly because she had a couple of shoplifters in the store. I’m guessing we looked like some shady lovebirds. Then she noticed her parents car sitting in the parking lot.

After a few good laughs, some introductions and conversation, it was time to hit the road back to Memphis. We didn’t make any detours, but we had plenty to giggle about on the way back. Granddad sent me home with a basket of peaches. I would discover later sending people home with something was his signature. He loved his people well and I had just become one of his people.

The next day I gathered up a few of those peaches and walked next door to my grandmother’s house. She loved peaches and I thought she would enjoy these. Her eyes widened and she asked me where I got those. I told her Crowley’s Ridge somewhere in Arkansas.

“I never thought I’d eat peaches from Crowley’s Ridge again,” she said as she pulled out a knife to peel the ripe fruit. Who knew that ridge held a special place in her heart too.

Now we drive through the state of Arkansas a couple of times every year on the way to my sister’s house. Everytime we see the sign for Crowley’s Ridge I think about that cemetery, those peaches and the one time we were mistaken for shoplifters. My friend Maria Hughes painted the canvas at the top of this blog of the Arkansas delta with Crowley’s Ridge in the background. It reminds me of our history, the stories our family has to share together and how deep our bond goes.

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