— Arrested Development, Achin’ for Acres
The first time I heard this Arrested Development song, I thought: tombstones in the yard? Really? I don’t think so! But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve, well … thought about it, and thought about how much this makes sense. Why wouldn’t you want to bury your dead close to you? And as the song makes plain, you can’t do that if you don’t own the land you live on. My landlords are lovely people, but I can’t imagine they’d have been too thrilled if I had suggested digging up the back garden so I could keep my aunt close.
When I went to Jamaica, I started seeing small sections on people’s property sectioned off in some way or other and then noticed that these sectioned-off bits were personal cemeteries. At first I was a little taken aback, but no more. I actually find something warm and comforting in this idea. Why should you have to pay crazy amounts of money to have your loved ones buried among strangers? Why should you have to follow someone else’s timetable in order to visit a gravesite? And cemeteries are rarely conveniently located. Why should I have to travel for hours to sit with my father, his parents, Mildred, her mother?
This particular burial place was a surprise to me. It’s at the edge of a beach and doesn’t immediately seem connected to anyone’s home. My guess is that this bit of land, which is at the base of a hill, sits below the family home.
Every time I’m in Jamaica, I think of Achin’ for Acres, think about the meaning of family land, of having your own piece of earth and being able to pass that on to the family that comes after you.
Got land to stand on,
then you can stand up,
stand up for your rights as a woman, as a man.
Man, oh man, my choices expand.
Ain’t got me no money, but I got me some land.