My mother-in-law, Marie Anne, often told me of those buried in her family’s plot: the handsome, fun-loving younger brother killed in a car crash; the aunt who passed while on a visit from Canada; her father who dropped dead of a heart attack on his way to church; and her beloved mother who lived her final years in Marie Anne’s home.
The final story was always this: one of her five sisters had charge of the money to supply their parents’ gravestone but misspent it. Their parents’ graves remained unmarked.
In her typical straightforward manner, she said that when she died she didn’t want to be laid out for others to see, nor did she want a funeral – just a graveside service with a priest and her closest family: son Marty, daughter-in-law Barbara (this writer), granddaughter DeDe, and favorite niece Lorette.
Marie Anne died at age eighty-eight after a life fully and gladly lived. When we called St. John’s to arrange her burial, we heard a story unknown to us: four of Marie Anne’s siblings and a cousin who died in infancy were also sheltered in the Desrosiers’ plot.
We bought a modest headstone, gray granite after the rocks she collected wherever she traveled. Then we added a simple vine across the top, modeled after her favorite wallpaper border to please her, as well as her mother who loved flowers. Marty and I determined names and dates as best we could, then listed Marie Anne and her parents on one side of the stone and, thinking ahead to the next chapter, added our own names to the other side.
Finally, on a mild September day, we gathered at her grave in St. John’s Cemetery to say good-bye to Marie Anne. And to say to those other family members who came before us, “We remember you. We honor you. You are with us – always.”
Marie Anne (Desrosiers) Desmarais (1907-1995)
Alphonsine (Plourde) Desrosiers (1878-1948) mother
Elzeard Desrosiers (1873-1945) father
Gonzaque Desrosiers (1911-1935) brother
Mrs. Louis (Cote) Desrosiers (1864-1929) aunt
Zepherin Desrosiers (1916-1917) brother
Monique Desrosiers (1913-1913) sister
J. Edmund St. Pierre (1908-1908) cousin
Elzeard Desrosiers (1905-1907) brother
Alida Desrosiers (1898-1900) sister
May they rest in peace.