Monday, January 9, 2012

"The Weeping Mausoleum of Cleveland, Tennessee." Or "How I decided to get pygmy goats."

Okay, I'll  be honest.  So far it has been one hell of a New Year.  We have had to deal with illness and some serious family problems.  Problems that so far remain unresolved.  For me, it has been easy to sink into the gloom of winter.

Thankfully, my friend Jeff Lindstrom helped me see things another way.  I was chatting with him on facebook, because he is literally half-way around the world, and bemoaning my inability to find good quotes about local ghost stories for my third Jane Brooks Novel, "A Haunted Death".  Jeff reminded me about a marble mausoleum that weeps red tears in Bradley County, Tennessee.

Granted, it wasn't the most upbeat of topics, but it did get me thinking, and researching.  Turns out, the mausoleum in question belongs to the Craigmile family of Cleveland, Tennessee.  In 1874, the Craigmiles built the Gothic style St. Luke's Episcopal Church and constructed the mausoleum as a memorial three years after the death of their seven-year old daughter, Nina.

It seems that the wealthy Craigmile family had decided their daughter could do much better than attending the local public school and hobnobbing with the town's children.  They hired a tutor to come and teach the girl at home.  The years went on and poor Nina grew lonely.  She had money, education, and family, but what she wanted was friends. 

The story goes that on the day of her death, her grandfather gave her a porcelain doll.  Nina named it Camellia and took it with her on a ride through the country in her grandfather's buggy.  She never came back.  The buggy was hit by a train while crossing the tracks and she was killed instantly.   

It was in the 1920's that the local school children first noticed the blood red trail of tears running down the front of the white marbled mausoleum.  The trail is still there today.  Back then, everyone assumed that it was poor Nina, crying for the playmates she had missed out on in life.  I think they may be right.

What we miss, we miss.  Thanks to Jeff, I realized again that life is short and I am tired of missing out. I'm going to buy two pygmy goats.

All my life I have been drawn to the little creatures, but it wasn't until last fall's first grade field trip that I finally seriously thought about getting a couple. I was a chaperon on the trip to a local  farm and I fell in love with a goat all over again.

You see, we have had our little house in the country (not really the country, it is in a subdivision, but we are zoned for goats - I checked) on the market for the past year and although we had almost fifty showings, we did not get one single offer.  Did I want something different - like my own office instead of a laptop on the dining room table?  Yes.  Did I get it? No.  If we are going to be here, I might as well enjoy pygmy goats standing on the patio table looking at me while I'm working on the dining room table.

That problem was pretty easily solved, the rest of my problems are more troublesome.  But, I am not seven years old.  I am thirty-seven and there is a lot I can do with my life while I am still here.  It's true that recent events have reminded me that I have a lot of thing to fear and a lot of things to be angry about. We all do.  But, I can wear this cloak of anger and fear and still enjoy playing at the park with my kids.  I can walk with sorrow and still find peace reading a bed time story about dinosaurs.  I can do whatever I choose, because unlike poor Nina, I am not dead yet.  And neither are you.

I know that one day I will be.  My goats may be sad when I pass, but I fully intend to live my life so that my mausoleum does not weep.


  1. Susan,
    Can a blog change a person's outlook on life? I believe your blog will! You write from the heart, I could feel every word. I love the layout and style but more so I love the content. I can't wait to read more : )

  2. Hi Susan! I really enjoyed your blog and learnt something too. Love the way you write - it really drew me in. Hope you enjoy your goats:)

  3. Hey Susan, super post! I wonder if getting the best out of life is about making the most of what we've got in the time we've got, if we have the power to do so.... Poor little Nina, she didn't have much power over her own life.
    My solution to everything at the moment is to surround my problems (people, work, ennui) in either violet or pink light. Even people I'm angry with (feels a bit funny at first, but still...) Seems to give me a little lift.
    Your goats will be wonderful :)

  4. Love goats! Great blog, too. : ) It was nice to meet another writer nearby. I'm sure we'll have the chance to greet again. Good luck with your novels. I look forward to learning more about your work.

  5. Wonderful post. Next time I'm in Cleveland I'm going to look for the mausoleum and Nina's tears.

    Your words are so right-you can indeed wear a cloak of sadness but still find joy in something as simple as reading a book for your children-I know cause I've done it : ) And I've also discovered those cloaks although heavy-make the day you finally shed them even sweeter!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Tipper! I am looking forward to the day I can shed that cloak!