Last January, I talked with Gino Mallia, husband of Marlene Mallia, President of the Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary Society.
“I don’t know if you can afford the dues,” he said.
“How much are they?”
“Two dollars.”
I would’ve paid a higher price just to enter Milmine Hall, the Society’s meeting place. The two-story historic building has mystified me from the moment I laid eyes on it thirty years ago.
When I’d drive by in the dark, candlelight glowing in the lower windows, I’d think, just what do you do, Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary Society?
Who took such good care of the building and grounds? Someday, I would walk inside those red doors.
Meanwhile, work and family commitments led me away in a hundred different directions from Milmine Hall.
Yet, in the fulfillment of time and obligations, and by a series of divine interventions two summers ago, my husband and I arranged the removal of my father and our firstborn’s vaults from White Chapel to reside in Lakeville Cemetery.
March 21 at 1 p.m., I stepped inside Milmine Hall as a member of the Society.
A center aisle parted four long tables on each side of the room. Members gathered to the left. I knew the Mallias by Gino’s voice and his briefcase, splayed and stuffed with notebooks and papers.
Marlene called the meeting to order. When she led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer, I knew I’d found another place in my community.
The main items on the agenda included the April 18 spaghetti dinner and the Lakeville Cemetery Memorial service, the latter the most remarkable Memorial commemoration I’ve ever witnessed.
As I sat under the food tent with my beloved’s gravestones in view, their beautiful resting place struck a holy balance between the grief of death and the joy of life.
The communal meal and the program including music, poetry, and speakers from the Armed Services, required tireless planning and work by the Mallias, their family, and Society members.
Marlene has served as President for the past twenty years. Under her direction, auxiliary members have restored fallen monuments, unearthed markers, erected a windmill, and built a gazebo.
A well-groomed cemetery holds priority in the Society’s purpose.
“We bought four new benches on sale at ACE’s in Oxford,” Gino reported in our October meeting.
Members know Gino’s not all work and no play. He’s predictably frisky when in his glory boiling pasta for the Auxiliary’s spaghetti dinners.
“How much is a membership?” a guest asked.
I knew what was coming.
“Well, I don’t know if you can afford it,” Gino said.
“What are the dues?”
“Two dollars.”
I drove by Milmine Hall yesterday morning and saw Gino’s keys in the open door.
“Marlene’s scrubbing the roasters,” he said. “She needs them for her soup Halloween night.”
“I make three different kinds. Potato, bean, and chili. Why don’t you join us?”
“Yeah,” said Gino, “with everyone else in Leonard.”
Dear Reader, this is just a glimpse of what the Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary Society does.
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