Lights of remembrance

December 11, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Gripping candles in one hand and umbrellas in the other, about 60 people walked through Rose Hill Cemetery Wednesday night to pay tribute to family and friends who have passed away.

Standing on a podium lined with luminaries, Bill Divelbiss, the cemetery's executive vice president, told the solemn group gathered under a drizzle that memories make a difference.

"As long as you can keep those memories alive, then they're never dead," he said.

Following his short speech, Divelbiss flipped a switch that buzzed a large pine tree's Christmas lights a bright white. A bagpiper played as those gathered beneath the tree adjusted their raincoat hoods and umbrellas.


Bill Miller stared down from his hood at his candle, which leaned crookedly against a small glass. His son, Tyler, was 6 years old when he passed away last year from Adrenoleukodystrophy and Miller, 47, said he hoped that by walking Wednesday night that he could rekindle his son's memory.

"I figure I'm just doing it as a remembrance to my son, that I'll just put a little time into it," he said.

Tyler and his half-brother, Travis Curry, who died two months before Tyler of the same disease, are buried at the cemetery.

Edwina Larimore walked to remember her father, mother, brother, nephew, sister and brother-in-law, most of whom are buried at Rose Hill.

"I feel that they're here and they know what we're doing for them," she said.

Larimore, who had her hair tucked under a rain bonnet, said her parents wouldn't have been surprised to see her walking outside on a cold December night.

They'd say, "That's our daughter," she said and giggled.

Glenda Marts said her mother, who passed away in August, would have just called her "nuts."

Marts, 36, who waited patiently as her daughters juggled their candles with umbrellas and a baby stroller, said her mother, father and sister are buried at the south Hagerstown cemetery.

She and her children had been out to the cemetery recently to build snowmen for their relatives buried there. Her parents, who both smoked, each had a snowman on their graves with candy canes placed there as cigarettes.

Marts said today she'll place 63 balloons on her mother's grave to celebrate what would have been her birthday.

"I believe she sees us," she said. "They're all looking down and saying, 'you're crazy.'"

Divelbiss said the cemetery, which holds the observance every year before Christmas, originally had planned to line the roads through the graveyard with luminaries Wednesday night, but the rain forced workers to store the candles until Christmas Eve.

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