I live far from Wilson, and my schedule does not align with LSP workdays as often as I would like. I am grateful to be able to rely on the eyes, hands, and hearts of so many to make each day a success. Wilson native Jane Cooke Hawthorne, who first came out to work at Odd Fellows in Season 1, beautifully described her experience yesterday:
“Do you love a daffodil like I do? Spring’s first flowers often push through before the last frosts, their brilliant yellow trumpets announcing that a new season is on its way! They are a symbol of re-birth and resurrection — a sight for weary, winter jaded eyes. Daffodils were often planted in cemeteries and are sometimes called the ‘Cemetery Ladies’ — a nod towards their faithful and upright appearance among the headstones.
“Today I had the honor and privilege of working at the beautiful Odd Fellows Cemetery in my hometown of Wilson, and I was hoping that the daffodils would be blooming. Odd Fellows is an African-American Cemetery in East Wilson that is being resurrected by faithful people under the umbrella of the Lane Street Project. Mostly through volunteer work over the last two years, the project has reclaimed gravestones and other markers hidden by debris, vines and overgrowth, in some places as deep as two feet, after years of neglect. Our instructions were to be mindful of and to not disturb the daffodils that grow in the underbrush. Especially in African-American cemeteries, we were told, daffodils and other shrubs such as palmetto were used to mark the grave instead of a headstone when the family could not afford such a luxury. I wasn’t sure there’d be any daffodils, but when I found them blooming today, my heart was full.
“Here were the daffodils springing forth to say, ‘Here I am, friend! Here I am, family! Here I am!! I lived and worked and played and loved and welcomed each spring in Wilson! And I am so glad that you have found me! I am not forgotten! I am loved and remembered and cherished!’ My clippers moved quickly to free the vines around those daffodils, and my heart filled even more.
“Taking a break, I spoke in the most honest way, as only one can, with Castonoble Hooks, Lane Street Project’s cheerleader, poet laureate, and head of the project’s Senior Force. ￼(I’m now a card-carrying member). I asked him, ‘Who owns this place after the efforts of the Senior Force, after the hard and dedicated work of Lisa, after the hard work of all the folks who have put in an hour or two or sixty? Who will own this place?’ ‘All of us,’ he said.
“All. Of Us.
“I think the daffodils are having their say. Come and help the Lane Street Project and let your heart be filled like mine was today.”
Thanks so much, Jane, for all you do to support Lane Street Project in word and deed!