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Love cemetery renovations, but not really dying to get in

I and many citizens who have loved ones buried in Carver Memorial Cemetery can now take pride in the place where they have been laid to rest. We are also grateful for some good people who are caring enough to give this cemetery their best, namely owners Bishop Ted Thomas Sr., Attorney Richard Tavss and their entire staff.

Thomas is the minister of New Community Temple COGIC in Portsmouth and Tavss is an attorney at the law office of Tavss and Fletcher in Norfolk.

Because I was out of town on Memorial Day, I missed the first Memorial Day Ceremony held at Carver. Bishop Thomas said that he came up with the idea of the service because people seem to be getting away from the meaning of the holiday. His choir rendered the music for the day and he spoke on the topic, “What Means Ye These Stones,” taken from the Book of Joshua 4:1-8.

He also included an article that was written by William Muller, Commander-in-Chief of the Veteran Reform War, about the true meaning of Memorial Day.

I probably should have been there because I have a lot of relatives buried in Carver, including my mother, grandmother, grandfather, uncles, brother-in-law and husband. Carver will also be my final resting place when the Lord calls me home.

I recently experienced proof of how the new staff and owners want to please their customers in any way that they can. Tavss informed me that uncovering sunken markers, straightening upright stones and restoring neglected stones is an ongoing project that really is the responsibility of the owner of the cemetery plot rather than cemetery personnel. However, they want to be a staff in which the community can put its faith and trust and they also want to make the cemetery one in which the citizens of Suffolk can take pride.

My proof was concerning the vase on my mother’s side of the Lee gravesite. The vase was disconnected from the headstone when the previous owners were there and my sisters had been keeping it at home until we could find the right people to replace it. When the new owners took over, Vincent Newby, operations manager, visited some people in the community who had relatives buried in Carver and gave them his business card. My aunt, Maddie Vann, received one and gave the card to me. I called the number on the card on Tuesday, May 23. The person who answered was Gail Turner, Senior Grief Counselor who was polite and seemed genuinely concerned about making sure I was a satisfied customer. She told me to bring the vase to the office at my convenience. I did about two hours later. As I drove into the cemetery toward the office, I was amazed at the way the streets inside the cemetery were paved and the renovations that had already taken place.

When I reached the office, I met Newby, gave him the vase, and showed him where the Lee headstone was located. Before I left the office, I made a new friend in Turner and she shared the goals of the new owners with me. I was surprised at what I had learned. That’s when I told her who I was and thought that the community should know about this information.

After I had revealed my identity she said, “God intended this interview to be with nobody but you.”

We agreed on a time to get together the next day and when I arrived early in the morning, the vase was already in place on my mother’s side of the headstone. By the way, an exclusive story about the cemetery, its staff and the staff’s goals will be published in the near future.

When I took my aunt to place flowers on her family grave on May 28, the Sunday before Memorial Day, it was the first time in a long time that we didn’t have to clean off the markers lying flat on the ground with a hoe and shovel to find her parents’ and sibling’s names because they were clear and visible. Their goal is to treat our loved one’s memory with dignity and respect.

My only regret is that those who have gone on before us can not see the classy and marvelous look of this cemetery. However, we like to think that our loved ones are up there watching over us so I am going to imagine that they are looking down at everything that is going on in their eternal resting places.

I just pray that I live long enough to see future projects completed in Carver Memorial Cemetery. That way I won’t feel so guilty about my not really dying to get in there.

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.