BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – On a hot Friday afternoon, Ja’Mesha McClellan searched for her sister’s gravestone at the Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens and Cemetery.
Holding old photos of the engraver, she guided her search by looking for gravestones and prominent shrubs nearby.
Eventually, she found him and fell to her knees to repel the weeds that had invaded the small stone carved with her sister’s name, Car’Nesha.
“I always talk about my sister because I wish I could have met her. I write books about her. I think about her every day. She was my imaginary friend growing up. I used to him. talk and everything, âMcClellan said. Over 23 years ago, her sister passed away at just one month old.
McClellan has visited Car’Nesha’s grave all his life. Lately, she has considered moving the grave to another cemetery.
âI hate to see the cemetery like this,â McClellan said. “The grass is tall. They have holes in the grass. You are afraid to step into something. Some tombstones are removed.”
McClellan thinks his sister and the others buried at Shadow Lawn deserve better.
âThis should be a big problem in our community,â she said.
John Lanier, treasurer of the non-profit organization that manages the upkeep and care of the cemetery, said others have already paid to move the graves at Shadow Lawn.
Lanier says the association is struggling to maintain the 40 acres of land on less than ten thousand dollars a year. This money comes from a few donations and interest earned on a state-mandated cemetery investment account.
McClellan says she would consider donating money to upgrade Shadow Lawn, instead of moving the grave, if she was confident the donation would be spent on upgrades.
According to Lanier, 100 percent of donations go to administrative costs and maintenance. No staff member is paid for their cemetery maintenance work.
The association is considering submitting a request for financial aid to Birmingham City Council.
“Just know that I wished and prayed that they could do a lot better for you all,” McClellan whispered into his sister’s gravestone. “I really hate it. May you rest in peace.”
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