Time stood still for two hours atop a quiet hill in southwest Missouri on Mothers Day. I do not get a chance to get up to Antioch Cemetery very often and can’t remember the last time I was up for the annual Mothers Day gathering. It is on this hilltop where my paternal grandparents and many other relatives are buried. I was told the oldest grave (1895) was a sister of my grandfather who died at birth.
This year’s pilgrimage was particularly poignant for several reasons all having to do with time. After all, it is 2008. And the Clanton reunion on Grandma Clanton’s birthday in August of 1968 does not seem like it could have been almost 40 years ago.
As one who has never lived in the area of NW Arkansas or SW Missouri the area has always held a hallowed place in my mind. Knowing the deep heritage of Dad’s side of our family in these hills makes it extra special. When I was young and visited at the Bentonville church of Christ, people in the church knew who I was because my last name was Clanton. It always felt like I was related to everyone in the town in some kind of way.
Today Bentonville is a city and the corridor from Bella Vista to Springdale is like one large metropolitan area thanks in no small way to the great success of a little company called Wal*Mart. When we attended church there Sunday we found a thriving church of 700. The drive through town is no longer a leisurely cruise. You have to have the speed and skill of a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I realized, somehow, the tables had turned. I used to be the cousin from the city. Now my Bentonville cousins are from the city and I am from the sleepy town of Skiatook. They’re hip and I am the country bumpkin.
We had a great visit with so many that I hate to even begin to list them here for fear of leaving a name off. But I spoke with some from several branches of the Clanton tree. And really missed some who we know would have loved to have been there.
As Dad, Mom, Debbie, Maverick and I climbed back into the van and drove through the winding road from the cemetery back into Arkansas and highway 72 then I-540 time wound back up and we were at warp speed once again. Cell phones rang, Shane’s GPS device had captured Antioch Cemetery as an address so he could find his way back again, and we would make it back to Tulsa via 4-lane highways and turnpike in the time we would have just been hitting Siloam Springs 30 years ago.
I love my place up here on the pond. But on this Sunday in May 2008 I realized a quiet hill in southwest Missouri may be the most valuable piece of real estate I have ever been on.