Cedar Hill Cemetery, Port Jefferson, NY

I took my mother to the cemetery this morning.  We went to visit Bobby’s grave.  My mother has always been a big fan of cemeteries.  Not just any cemetery, of course, but the ones where our loved ones remains are buried.  As a kid I always thought it was weird but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to like them also.  I can’t tell you how many pictures we have of us four kids in front of various headstones.  And the grandkids, too.  I always tried not to step on the person I loved and I was careful not to step on other people’s loved ones, either.  We used to visit my father’s grave site, at the military cemetery, but it’s been years since we’ve been there.  There’s no personality at Pinelawn.  And it was just too sad to think of my father there, deep in the ground, far away from where is mother and now his son is buried.  My mother went through a period there when she wanted to have him moved.  If I had the money I would do it for her but I think it’s very expensive.  She has made it known that she does not want to be buried next to my father.  About ten years ago she gave me a card for my birthday.  In the card was the deed to a cemetery plot.  Two, in fact.  One for her and one for me.  I was outraged.  Was she trying to jinx me?  Did she think I was in imminent danger of dying and if so, did she think I wanted to spend eternity right next to her?  Eventually I got over it.  Not for nothing, but I would always be assured of a resting place just down the road, so to speak, from my brother, Bobby, my grandmother, and of course, right next to mom. 

Today, though, dawned gray and windy.  My mother came by at about 10:30 this morning and we headed out.  On the way we stopped at a new bodega she found and she had some chicken and rice and I had a meat pie.  She likes to eat early.  Dinner can be no later than 5 p.m.  After we ate we headed to Port Jeff.  She’s very happy with the new caretaker.  The old one wasn’t too swift on the uptake.  He didn’t keep the grounds up to her standards, although he did plant a burning bush (no pun intended, I hope) at “our” site so she would know where she was being buried.  I commented that she really wouldn’t have to know at that point and we both laughed.  I put some gloves on so I could clear the remains of the poison ivy from my grandmother’s grave.  The caretaker had cleaned it up nicely.  Then I poured a gallon of vinegar where the roots were.  My mother read somewhere that vinegar kills poison ivy.  I wondered if it was going to kill the azalea also…We set some flowers at Bobby’s grave then headed back to the car, taking one flower out so she could put it on her friend, Chris’ grave.  Me and Mom are several hundred feet from Bobby and Grandma.  There are nice rolling hills and little winding roads.  Chris is buried about 50 feet from where me and Mom will be and Mom is happy because they can “visit”.  Now you know why I thought all this grave stuff was weird when I was young.  We’re in a newer section and after Mom put a carnation by Chris’ headstone we decided to explore a little.  We read all the interesting headstones.  Ones whose birthdays were close to our dates of birth, or who had nice artwork on the tombstone.  There were alot of young kids in their 20’s who recently died, Mom commenting on all the nice flowers and knicknacks and how sad it all was.  Mom says all the young kids died riding motorcycles.  I don’t think so but she’s convinced. 

Then a young guy with maybe his grandmother pulled ahead and parked his truck.  They got out.  The old woman was wearing a babushka and a long black dress with black tie-up shoes, like old women do.  She set some flowers in front of a tombstone me and mom were admiring just a few moments earlier and started to cry loudly.  We walked back to the car, leaving them to their grief and pondering ours. 


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7 thoughts on “Cedar Hill Cemetery, Port Jefferson, NY”

  1. I will try to find it. Maybe you should mention that you went to visit him. That may start them to thinking about it. For some people it is too painful to remember or think about the death of a loved one so they just blot it out of their minds. It must have been especially painful because he killed himself and maybe they don’t know the reason why or maybe, in a way, they blame themselves & they just can’t face it. I found, like you did, that it is a peaceful place to visit. My grandmother, Elma Darling, is also buried right in front of my brother, so I visit her, too. She was my father’s mother, who my mother loved very much, as my mother’s mother was murdered when my mother was only 14. My mother had alot of trauma in her life and the death of close family members has affected us, her children, because it affected her.

  2. The next time I go to the cemetery I will be sure to see your brother’s grave. Also, I apologize about the motorcycle comment…I wrote it was your grandmother who said it, but it was your mother. I have no idea why his parents never got a headstone. I never thought it was my place to say anything, out of fear that they would think I was implying that they didn’t care. But I’m starting to think I should say something. I don’t know when and how often they even visit the cemetery, where seeing it would remind them that they haven’t done it yet. It’s only 10 minutes from their house and there is no physical reason preventing them from going.

    Joey is buried close to the newer section, but in the older section for some reason they were able to get a spot there. It’s hard to explain, so it may be hard to find. When you go in, go straight, then bear left at the shed, go straight, then make a right on the road between the old section and the big newer section ( not the small new section). It’s on the right, soon after you get on that road, about 3 rows back. There is a big tree to the right of it, although there are probably a lot of trees. You’ll know it by the fallen down cross.

    Thanks again .

  3. Melissa
    It’s so sad that your brother-in-law killed himself. I always think that if the person had just hung on a little longer they would have made it through. It’s a shame that his parents, your in-laws, never saw fit to get him a headstone. That’s sad but also odd. I do notice that people put different things as headstones now. Maybe your husband could go to the gardening center (like Forge River in Center Moriches) and buy a nice stone, just a big rock, and place it at his site. The marker with his name on it could be glued on. This way you would have a memorial to your brother-in-law. My brother Bobby Smalley died when he was 26, in 1988. When you first come into the cemetery make a quick right. Go to the end and make a left. Go just past the first left and he’s on the left at the bottom of the little hill. My mother has statues of angels and cats on the headstone. I find Cedar Hill to be a peaceful place where I can go and visit my brother, who I love very much. There are times when I can feel his presence no matter where I am. Where is your brother-in-law? Why do you think his parents never got him a headstone?

  4. As soon as I saw Cedar Hill Cemetary I loved it. It isn’t a manicured cemetary like so many others..I feel such a feeling of peace and quiet when I’m there. I’m actually going back today.

    I was there last Friday, the 6th of October to visit my brother-in-law’s grave. It was 5 years since he’s been gone. He was in his 20’s when he killed himself..shot himself…1 month before his 25th birthday..he would have been 30 next month. His grave may not have been one of the ones you noticed of people who died in their 20’s. It’s been 5 years since he’s been gone and he still does not have a headstone…what do you think that means on the part of his parents????…it’s very upsetting to me and my husband when we visit and his grave site looks so uncared for and neglected. Sometimes I think we’re the only ones who visit. Right after Joey was buried my husband (it was his brother)made a beautiful wooden cross and we had a metal plate engraved with Joey’s name and dates of birth and death as a temporary grave marker. Well 5 years has passed, the cross has now fallen, and broken and the plate with his name on it is faded…you can barely read it.

    You can tell your grandmother I know of at least one person buried there who was killed in a motorcycle accident…I think he was in his early 30’s when he died…he was the brother of someone I went to school with.

    I always noticed there were a lot of young people buried there also. I always wonder how they died also.

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