Many of you who follow my blog came to me through Jon Katz. As readers of his, you know that he now walks at our local cemetery, Woodlands Cemetery. (for non-followers he is at http://www.bedlamfarm.com) Today he wrote about the tombstone of James and Roxanna.
Quoting Jon, “Seeing this tombstone though, made me feel a little differently. I thought for the first time that it might be nice to lie in this cemetery side by side, in a loving clasp for all time. Maria could design something quite wonderful and strange to go on the tombstone, she could sketch us walking together or holding hands, which we often do. Maria laughed, and said she loved the idea of both of us ending up as ashes, dust to dust, being scattered here and there. “
I would like to share with Jon and Maria and all of you out there, that you can have it both ways. If you choose cremation as the final disposition of your human body, have your ashes scattered where ever it is that you want them and save a little to put in a permanent place-a place called a Cemetery
I don’t know why, but I have always loved cemeteries. In my hometown of Mullens, West Virginia, there is no cemetery. The nearest ones are at least 30 miles away. If you want to visit the grave of an old friend or a beloved teacher, you don’t even know where to go. I think I felt, even as a young person, that something was missing.
What is it about cemeteries that I love? There are many things, starting with the peace and quiet. There is not a great noise level present except on mowing days. There always seems to be a feeling of a quiet hush even when I am engaging in conservation with a friend while walking in the cemetery.
I have heard it said that cemeteries are a waste of land. I feel that cemeteries are wonderful way to conserve land. They are often an oasis in the middle of urban and suburban sprawl. The “Rural Cemetery” movement, which began in the 1830s, created final resting places that were also attractive parks that provided a place for the general public to enjoy refined outdoor recreation amidst art and sculpture previously available only for the wealthy. They are their own kind of land conservancy where there can never be a busy highway or shopping plaza built.
Every tombstone aka headstone, marks a life lived down through the generations and will be there for the generations to come. Every name on a headstone is still a name in the universe. There is a record that that person lived here on earth. Today we may have no knowledge of the persons lying under the ground but we still know the names of James and Roxanne Bennett. They are gone but in some way they are not forgotten. This is a tribute to their time here on earth.
Cemeteries are as much about Life about Death. Yet they help us face that Death is inevitable and by facing this, we can live Life more fully. They are a place to remember those who have gone before us and to reflect on those who will come after us. They help us understand that every life is of importance.
I hope it is many years before Jon and Maria have need of a tombstone but I also hope that they reconsider having one. And perhaps you, my reader, will also give some thought before saying, “Just scatter my ashes.”
P.S. I want written on my tombstone—Here lies Elizabeth, buried amongst those she buried.
Leslie McConachie on Each Family is Special Leslie McConachie on Each Family is Special Rochelle Clark on Strange Life Martha Crist on Each Family is Special enicholsross on Why the Cemetery