by James Ray Deaton 8/5/15
Way out west under Great Basin skies and high desert clouds on a recent road trip, I stumbled upon an example of the growing differences between the news of the day and old-time ways and values.
Driving through the remote and thirsty town of Tonopah, Nevada, I stopped for gas and water, poked around the old stone buildings along the main street and then walked through the old cemetery northwest of town. While not quite a full-fledged taphophile, I’ve always enjoyed a good walk among the tombstones of an old graveyard. The stone markers with dates and epitaphs often tell quiet stories about those who came before.
Driving north into town from Goldfield, Nevada, I had been listening on the radio to the static-laced voice of Rush Limbaugh from some distant and fading outpost station. Rush was talking about the latest Planned Parenthood revelations that have shocked those of us still capable of being shocked by the goings-on of our modern civilization.
Excerpts from the latest video revealed professional people discussing the harvesting of fetal body parts, the profitability of procuring “intact kidneys,” fetal livers and the more-desirable and profitable heart and brain tissues.
Recent revelations about “I’m going to basically crush below; I’m going to crush above,” the benefits of “per-item” pricing, “less crunchy” methods of organ extraction, descriptions of “intact calvariums” and a doctor’s desire for a Lamborghini have horrified at least part of the nation.
Such talk was still on my mind as I walked in the old cemetery and discovered a reminder about the true value of all human life. Part of the cemetery was watered and lush with green grass and leafy trees; other parts were sun-baked, dry and less visited.
In a graveled and dry part of the cemetery I came upon one quite elaborate gravesite. Although small, it had a tall rectangular concrete footing enclosing the gravesite. The footing was topped with delicate wrought-iron fencing. The iron fencing had heavy finials at each corner and wrought-iron fleur-de-lys along the top on all four sides. A white marble cross was positioned on one end. The cross had weakened with time; someone had wired it to the iron fence to help support its weight. On the cross was carved a depiction of two sprigs of ivy (evergreen) and a name: “Angelia V. Kezevich.” The dates: “July 1913; Dec. 1913.”
I could find no other “Kezevich” gravesite nearby. Angelia lay in repose alone — mother, father, any siblings, presumably buried elsewhere, in another town, another state, perhaps another country. Baby Angelia had lived less than five months more than 100 years ago, but you know that she was important to someone and you know that she was loved. She was the joy of someone’s heart and its heartbreak when she died.
Tonopah, “Queen of the Silver Camps,” is a pretty remote and desolate place even today — and I would image it was even more so 100 years ago before modern freeways, reliable electricity and modern communications and transport. I imagine Tonopah, Nevada has always been a rather difficult place to call home.
But 100 years ago in this small desert town of little rain and hardscrabble life, Baby Angelia’s short time on earth was noted and honored and memorialized by those who loved her. They did not want her to be forgotten. They wanted a lasting manifestation of their love. Time and effort and thought and money (value) were put into Angelia’s final resting place in the town cemetery. She mattered to someone and they mattered to her.
Little Angelia never knew about history. She never knew her family tree. She never learned the alphabet or read a book, but she knew a mother’s love, the touch of a hand, her daddy’s voice and some of the joys and some of the pain of living, if even only for a little while. Whether for five hours or five days, for five months or five decades, Angelia had a life. She did live once in her time, in our world, under the heavens.
Her loving parents could not save her from whatever illness or accident or infirmity that took her life, but in their grief they could honor and remember her with a beautiful and proper and substantial gravesite. It was and it is a physical, earthly, lasting manifestation of their love for their dear baby girl. Little Angelia V. Kezevich has not been forgotten, not yet, even into the twenty-first century. It is testament that every life, no matter how brief, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is important and has more value than we may ever know. People knew that 100 years ago, but some today have forgotten.
James Ray Deaton, one of six known conservatives living in Berkeley, Calif., is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
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