I placed a jug of water and a bowl in the car and loaded Ahab in the backseat. My dog and I were going gallivanting. On this day, we headed to Arabi to find my 4th great-grandfather’s grave. Samuel Story.
The drive, at times beautiful, at times heartbreaking, took us past dogwoods in full bloom, white petals shimmying on layered branches, past trees of all kinds dressed in green after standing bare throughout the winter. I stopped and we walked around trees slaughtered by tornadoes, trees beheaded by tornadoes. One house was nothing but a rubble of crippled wood, broken furniture, a foundation. A blanket drooped from the top of a decapitated tree.
Ahab, pit bull and lab and God-knows-what-else, decided to climb into the front seat. Once he settled there, his seventy-five pounds triggered the seatbelt alarm. Buzzzzzzzzzzz! Buzzzzzzzzzzzz! Ahab stared at me. He cocked his head this way and that. He turned, stood, settled down again, curled on the seat. The alarm went off again. He stood again and licked my face, then he climbed over the arm rest and CD compartment and settled in the back seat.
In Arabi, Ahab and I walked through the cemetery, up and down every path. Back and forth. Back and forth. But Samuel Story was not there. Ahab peed on a couple of headstones, and I told him, “We might both go to hell for your disrespect of the dead.” He placed his front legs on my chest and licked my face. Threats of hell didn’t seem to bother him.
Back in the car, I ran a quick search on the ancestry site and discovered I had searched the wrong cemetery. With the correct information, I entered the name of the cemetery in my GPS and headed to Worth County, not far from Arabi. At the Odum-Story cemetery I removed Ahab’s leash, so he could run free in the area enclosed by a fence. He raced this way and that, eventually stopping at a grave. He positioned himself there, waiting for me.
Light blazed from all directions, reflecting off the white rock covering the ground, reflecting off the marble headstones. A brilliant sunlight radiated from overhead. The combination of it all was blinding. Ahab continued to hover near the grave, so I went to him with my camera. He put his head on the headstone as if posing, and I snapped a picture. When my eyes recovered enough to read, I discovered that Ahab had posed at the grave of Samuel Story, my 4th great grandfather, born in 1795.
Before leaving, I gave Ahab water from the bowl I’d brought. He guzzled it down, then hopped in the car. And off we went, once again passing the destruction of angry tornadoes and the greenery and blooms of a new Spring.
We stopped for a quick visit with my husband’s lovely sister, and Ahab gave her a good licking. When we got home, we were both tired and satisfied. I couldn’t stop wondering about the life of Samuel Story.
I’m a loner. At times, I find myself apologizing for it, but I shouldn’t. I enjoy my simple life, my dogs, my husband and children. I love to explore the countryside. And on this particular day, Ahab and I found what we were searching for. Life is beautiful.