TRAVEL HERE: PECAN GROVE CEMETERY IN MCKINNEY TX
Funerals are bittersweet: an opportunity to spend time with dear friends and family, a recitation of your best memories, gorgeous floral tributes and touching cards, phone calls, emails and messages. But the price of admission is the loss of someone you love and in the end you must deliver your beloved to a cemetery. Recently, I lost my dad.
Tending the Family Plot
Dad’s final resting place is Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney, Texas and some day I’ll be buried nearby. Many years ago one of my aunts purchased 12 plots for $300 for her father and his descendants. I’m so glad they did.
I make frequent visits to Pecan Grove. One of my jobs in the family is to be sure the silk flowers on the graves are fresh and appropriate to the season. It’s a task I enjoy. I load the car with tools and cleaning materials, stop by Garden Ridge or Hobby Lobby to pick up new arrangements and drive up to McKinney.
Usually, I avoid the traffic hassles of Central Expressway and drive up Highway 5, cataloging all the changes to the landscape since the days we made the trip weekly to visit my grandmother. The story of my family is woven into that thoroughfare.
I always smile crossing the point where the old railway trestle used to be. In the days before cellphones, an uncle was late arriving home from his job in Dallas. My aunt panicked and recruited my father to look for him. Certain Uncle Glenn had come to some harm, Dad and Aunt Tommie started driving to Dallas in my dad’s grey Studebaker convertible. About the time they got to the trestle, Dad spotted Uncle Glenn innocently driving home. He was a car salesman and had closed a deal late in the day. Usually he alerted his wife when he’d be late, but had forgotten that time.
Then there’s the Heard Museum. My grandmother had a huge pencil tree cactus and when she passed away no one had enough room in their home to accommodate it. We donated it to the Heard. Memorabilia from our granddad’s Spanish American War experience went to a local history museum. I could go on, but you get the idea. McKinney is home, wherever I happen to live.
Visiting the Cemetery
Arriving from the south, I first see the huge pecan trees which give the cemetery its name. Turning right into the entrance on Settler’s Trail, my blood pressure lowers and I roll down the window to smell the familiar woodsy fragrance. On the left is a beautiful historical chapel rebuilt in recent years. I remember the days when the office of the cemetery used to be here. Like many older cemeteries, Pecan Grove went through a period of neglect and I remember when my mom used to stop by and complain about the lack of edging around the tombstones or the need to cut back the trees in a certain area. Nowadays, the cemetery is well-kept, thanks to a perpetual care fund put in place, but it wasn’t always that way.
Something I love about Pecan Grove is the feeling of history surrounding you under the ancient trees. I can appreciate
the intent of those pristine burial grounds with identical gravestones, but I wouldn’t feel at home there. Pecan Grove is one of the oldest cemeteries in North Texas and as you drive down the shaded lanes you know it. Towering marble obelisks, granite vases covered in granite veils, grand columns and sweet cherubs from an earlier time dominate the scene.
Then I turn right on Rhea and on the left corner after crossing Pecos Trail, I come to L3. That’s where the Mobleys are. Until a few weeks ago, a tree marked the lot. My Great-Aunt Bird planted it there after my grandfather was buried. Grandmother really didn’t want the tree, but wouldn’t let anyone remove it because she didn’t want to upset her sister. However, years later they got in a squabble and Aunt Bird went to the cemetery to chop down the tree. So, of course, my grandmother went to great lengths to save the tree she had previously not even wanted. We are Irish after all. A temper and stubbornness are part of my heritage.
I didn’t know the story of the tree until I called about my dad’s burial. The caretaker told me the tree was too close to the headstone and would eventually cause damage to it. So I talked to Mom and she was relived for a reason to get rid of it. By removing the tree, Mom’s final resting place will be between her dad and her husband, something the tree would have prevented.
A day or so before the funeral I loaded my cemetery gear into the car. My husband wondered what in the world I was doing. “I’m going to clean off the gravestones.” He looked at me like I was nuts, but he climbed in the car with me. I do have a wonderful husband. Even though I’d put the fall arrangements into the vases just a few weeks before, I wanted to be sure everything was tidy. We spent about a half an hour scrubbing down gravestones, trimming errant weeds and fussing with the silk flowers.
The employees of the cemetery gravitated towards us, one on a tractor and the other in a pickup. They wondered how George Weldon Cave was kin to T.B. Mobley and who I was. Bill used the opportunity to assure himself that when the Sadeks needed burial we’d have no problem claiming our plots. Then he wondered how much the plots cost now. That $300 investment my aunt made for us? Today it would cost $24,000. Thank you Aunt Edie.
When I was satisfied with the appearance of my family, I picked up my stuff and loaded the car. As we wound through the cemetery, I pointed out to Bill where other people I love are buried – like Aunt Bird, for instance. We passed by the older part of the cemetery where slaves and settlers were buried without markers for their graves. I’m glad that one day I’ll be a part of this historical place.
So go to Pecan Grove Cemetery, especially if you love history. If you know Collin County, you’ll see familiar names on many of the headstones. The website brags of “governors and gunslingers” buried there. But I go for the woodsy fragrance under the pecan trees and to remember my family.