multi-media artist. documentarian.
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Trammel Cemetery

On May 3, 2015, some family members and I went to Tatum, TX to help with an annual gathering/meeting to clean Trammel Cemetery. Before this, most of us that went had never been. My grandmother (Bertha Faye Reeves), who passed away on March 15, 2015, was laid to rest there on March 21st (her birthdate was March 21, 1947). Her mother, Mamie Fite Wallace, and her grandmother, Aria Fite, were also buried at Trammel. Interestingly, there are some of my grandma’s dad’s relatives buried there too. 

It was a little past sunset (and rainy) when we arrived at the burial site on March 21st. Many of us had no idea of what to expect upon arrival. What we found: no lights, one way in and out, dense expanses of giant, guardian-like trees on both sides of the bumpy road, and reddish orange-tinged puddles resting in variously sized potholes that the line of cars rhythmically dodged, and wet land that sank with each step toward the gravesite.

I didn’t take many pictures because it was too emotional, and I wasn’t prepared for the conditions. 

However, when we returned on May 3rd, despite still feeling emotional and anxious, I took some. Thankfully, instead of using car lights, flashlights and cell phones to see our way around the cemetery, or stepping into soggy land, this time we had beautiful, sunny and dry spring weather. The site, which is tucked away in the ‘woods,’ brings about a variety of feelings/thoughts that I still can’t articulate. I kept feeling like I was in another time period. For one identifiable reason, some of the deceased were born before slavery ended. But, the currently unexplainable feelings/thoughts came as soon as we turned onto the road entering the cemetery. Maybe I’ll understand what I feel later.

It was difficult to not be a bit upset with seeing the dirt still piled up on top of my grandma. I am still going through accepting that she is no longer physically alive. I had hoped that going to the cemetery would help me move further along. It didn’t. I miss her, and think about her every single day.

Nevertheless, I am glad that I made the trip. I had the chance to get out of the city and breathe some cleaner air – my body responded negatively, however. I saw the area where my grandma and two of her brothers grew up during their early childhood. I mentally time-traveled back to when she was a little girl tagging along with her brothers down the country roads. Were there several other kids around? What did they play with? What types of food did my great-grandma cook? How often did my great-grandma sew her kids’ clothes? How did the kids and adults treat each other? So many other questions that I will never get answered. But, it was nice to imagine.

(Note: This is also part of my An Until Next Time series.) Also, as of November 28, 2015, my grandmother's sister, Pamela, is buried there next to her. Pamela passed away at age 55 on November 22, 2015, on their sister Deborah's birthday. I will add to this series each time we visit the cemetery.