Random Acts of Cemetery Kindness – Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts

by Don Taylor

During my recent trip to Detroit, one of my newly-met half-sisters, Beverly, and I had the opportunity to visit the Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock, MI.  Our common grandmother Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts is buried there. Also, two of Essie’s children (an aunt and an uncle to us) are buried nearby.

I had done my homework before arriving. I downloaded an overall map of the cemetery and then contacted the cemetery for locations of the specific individuals.  They were most helpful. I received the specific plot numbers for the people and I received a detailed map of the plots from the cemetery staff.

Marker – Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts
Beloved Mother – 1903-1982
Photo by Don Taylor

When we arrived at the cemetery, we were able to park very close to where the plots were. It was Memorial Day 2016, and the cemetery had many people. When we found the marker a nice man, whose family member was buried a few yards away, offered to help us clean up the site and make it look better as it was quite overgrown. He then came over with a trimmer, blower, water bottle and paper towels and made quick work of cleaning up the marker. The difference was amazing. No longer did the grass encroach upon the bronze plaque, but was cleanly off the encircling cement as well. It just looked so clean, so fresh. We thanked our new friend for his work.

Marker – Aunt Pansy (Roberts) Romer
1922-1987
Photo by Don Taylor

As Murphy would have it, when we reversed the flower cup to add flowers direct from Beverly’s garden mud and goop came out and dropped onto the bronze plaque. So we had to wipe the marker down again. We added the flowers and said our respects.

Next to Pansy’s marker is the marker of her daughter, our aunt, Pansy Marie and her husband, Edward Harold Romer.  Our anonymous friend had also trimmed up their marker. We thanked him profusely for his efforts once again. We paid our respects there and moved on to Uncle John’s marker.

Marker – John H Roberts
(photo shot from top and inverted)
Photo by Don Taylor

Uncle John, and his wife Isabel, Roberts’ marker was the least encroached upon of the markers before we arrived. Our friend didn’t clean that one up. He asked if we wanted him to do so, but it really didn’t need it like the other ones did. Again, we paid respects to Uncle John and his wife.
Then we returned to Essie’s marker. It was really moving for me to introduce myself to a grandmother I had never known and who never knew that I existed. But from everything my cousins and siblings say, she would have embraced me and loved me completely and totally had she known of me. I miss never having had the chance to know “Gran” first-hand.

Marker: Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts with flowers
Photo by Don Taylor

Future Actions:
Collect stories and memories from the siblings and cousins regarding Essie so that I may get to know her.

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