After his wife and father died, Darin Roam found the need to look after the graves at Floral Memorial Park in Selma. First, he cared for those of his family. His caretaking then expanded to others.
Darin Roam spends most of his waking hours in a Selma cemetery, removing dirt from headstones with a paintbrush and meticulously clipping grass with kitchen scissors.
It’s a labor of love and grief that started after the death of his wife in 2014 and has expanded to about 30 gravestones. He does it to help people he’s met in the cemetery and church.
Among the stones is one for his father, the Rev. Charles Roam, who died of a heart attack two years ago at the church he led, Grace Free Will Baptist in Selma.
Potted roses, a wooden cross, solar lights and snowman figurines grace the headstones at Floral Memorial Park on a recent winter day. Roam places photos on them while he works so people can see their smiling faces.
“I’m comfortable out here and stuff,” the 48-year-old says of volunteering in the cemetery. “I can be closer out here with them.”
Roam is mentally disabled. His mother, Kathy Roam, isn’t sure her son fully understands what’s happened to his father and wife.
Of the time he spends at his wife April’s graveside, she says, “I think he doesn’t really understand that she’s not really there. She’s with God.”
Roam and April were inseparable for the 17 years they were married.