Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Mountain Reminder

I have a few more photos left over from our trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway last month that I want to share. These are about a stop that didn't turn out quite as expected.
Shortly after passing the exit for Deep Gap, North Carolina, we came across this church. I was thinking a "Sunday Morning" post. The Blue Ridge Baptist Church is a modern brick building, in a vernacular Gothic Revival  style, dated 1938. The congregation was founded in 1888. The first graves I spotted in the cemetery were Watsons, and I immediately thought of Doc Watson, the musician, who lives in nearby Deep Gap.

Perhaps they are relatives, I thought. And then I noticed this row of small stones.

The first five stones are children of a single family, named Walker, and are for children who died in infancy or early childhood. They lost children in 1909, 1912, two in 1913, and another in 1917. Three daughters were either still born or failed to reach their first birthday, a son failed to reach his second birthday, and a daughter lived seven years. It's hard to imagine the pain this family suffered. But we did get a taste of their fear.

Our older son, now 38 and a father himself, was born prematurely and suffered respiratory distress. That was just a decade after the best medicine in America could not save the newborn son of the President of the United States who had similar difficulties. Fortunately for us, the staff of the neonatal intensive care unit of Los Angeles Children's Hospital was up to the task. We have always been grateful for the medical advances made in that decade, and for being in a location at the time where the benefits of those advances were available. And we are reminded to be thankful for all of the advances that have been made in medicine, automobile safety, and countless other fields. Life is surely better now, and not nearly as frightening.


  1. While researching my own family tree I discovered an appalling number of infant deaths, particularly from that branch of the family who lived in London. My mother told me that many of these deaths were caused by the London "smog", a deadly combination of smoke and fog which young lungs could not survive. We have much to be thankful for.

  2. My oldest son suffered from the same thing, Jim, when he was born prematurely in 1969. Not so many years after the Kennedys lost their baby. A reminder indeed to be thankful.

  3. As you know, I can only say 'I agree wholeheartedly'. Seeing so many children's graves (here in England too) is always heartbreaking.