|One of my favourite photos in Montenegro|
Here in Australia, I was brought up where going to the cemetery required a certain demeanour. To dress in black, to look sad (even if I wasn't feeling sad), to speak softly and to carry out rituals of which to this day I'm uncertain as to their meaning.
So when in Montenegro my uncle and my aunt suggested one fine day we go the local cemetery, I was a bit hesitant. I knew that I had to go at some stage. I needed to pay my respects to my grandmother and my uncle. My grandfather who was killed in the war has his name written on the memorial stone. He died during the bombing of Bijelo Polje and his body was never recovered. So his remains are not in the grave.
It was a beautiful day. The walk was pleasant, the views amazing and we even picked fresh walnuts from a tree by the roadside. It was a four km walk. The cemetery was in the most stunning position. Set high upon a flat area of the mountain, it was peaceful, breezy and inviting. I wandered all around. My uncle showed Mitch and I the memorial stone of our family. This was the picture I almost posted - but it just didn't feel right.
We spent ages looking at many of the graves and their stones. We constantly chattered. Sometimes we stopped. We tidied up some graves and some tears were shed for my aunt's side of the family. Then we happened upon a huge concreted grave with no stone. It belonged to my uncle and my aunt. I recall my aunt telling my uncle to go inside and check it out to see if the structure was still in good condition. My uncle asks Mitch to give him a hand to move the concrete slab which opened up at the base. I didn't know what to think! Am I supposed to be sad here or what? I literally saw my uncle climb inside while my aunt sat on top yelling out questions to him.
My uncle echoes back to us that he found a newspaper in there. My aunt jokingly says, "good, it'll give you something to read when you go to live there permanently". My uncle belts back "you'll be needing it before me". My aunt says to Mitch and I, "quick, let's shut the door so he can't get out". This friendly taunting of one another continued till my dear uncle crawled back out, replaced the slab and we all sat upon their final resting place.
The jibing continued and I couldn't resist taking a photo of them. My aunt said that she wasn't going to let Mitch go back to Australia and that there was room for him directly "down under" too. Far from sadness, I experienced laughter, joy and love on top of the mountain in the Potrk cemetery. I had a wonderful day.