I love walking around cemeteries and reading the inscriptions on the headstones. I have written about some of my visits, here and here.
Here are some of the interesting headstones I have seen
A cousin of mine died at the age of 50, 10 years ago, and I often go to his grave to visit. This is his headstone- he chose the spot himself, under the trees, alongside the forest. A quiet place to visit- where I sit and think of him.
Daily Prompt:Your personal sculptor is carving a person, thing or event from the last year of your life. What’s the statue of and what makes it so significant?
I would not dare to venture a guess about the events of my last year of life, or having sculptures carved to represent an event or myself. Having no children to take on the job of carving in stone what they thought of me, I have already taken care of the written text to go on my headstone when the time comes, leaving it tucked in along with my Will. The last visit I made to the cemetery to visit family graves I was taken by the stories many of the headstones told, and wrote a post about that visit.
Nine months before my mother in law died she had accompanied me and my husband to visit the gravesites of her husband and her parents. She had been fighting cancer for close to 12 years at that time, and I remember vividly her leaning on one of the headstones and saying to me, “I think the next time I come here it won’t be under my own steam.” She was right. As she and I walked among the graves that day she commented on the designs on some of the foot stones lined up around us, and mentioned she would like one with roses on it. When the time came to choose the headstone and foot stone for her we followed her wishes.
As I walked through the cemetery I took notice of some of the designs on the headstones and how interesting the carvings were.
These two say Mother and Father in Yiddish
This one is unusual with its birds on a branch, but sadly reads “our beautiful daughter”
The person buried here was someone I knew, a young man is his 40’s who died in an accident. He was an avid guitar player.
It is humbling to stand amid the graves, to hear nothing but silence, just the wind and the occasional call of a bird. To see generations buried together, to think of the lives people lived, to look at the words carved out in the stone that families have written in remembrance of their loved ones.
I visited my cousin this morning. In the cemetery. He died 7 years ago at the age of 50. After exhausting all avenues for treatment after 5 years, his words to his mother were, “We’ve had a good run.” That was how he told her it was over. His sense of humor never dimmed, even in the face of death. That was Mitch. A man who couldn’t do enough for his friends, the life of every party, a person who never wasted a minute of his life before he was sick, and surely didn’t waste a second after he was diagnosed.
One of my first memories of him was after my husband and I got engaged. (Mitch and my husband were first cousins.) My husband’s mother & brother were not overjoyed at our getting engaged as they still weren’t over his divorce two years prior. I remember sitting on the bus commuting to work the morning after I got engaged, and Mitch got on a few stops after me. I was lost in some reverie thinking about my new status no doubt, when I spotted him coming down the aisle – as he spotted me, right there in front of a bus load of people he opens his arms wide and yells out loud, “Welcome to the family!!” Grabbing me in a bear hug. Not caring who heard, who was looking, that he was now the center of attention- that was Mitch. It was just what I needed that morning- someone to share in my happiness – who was genuinely happy- and though it was 24 years ago I remember it like yesterday.
He was a big man- large in size and larger than life in personality. You knew when he made an entrance into a room. Always happy to see people, be surrounded by people, laughing, joking, always ready to do a favor for someone, be a friend when you needed one.
Mitch had chosen where he wanted to be buried, a spot on a hill in the cemetery, at the edge of a forest of trees. As I sat there today, under the canopy of those trees, I wondered why being near the grave of a person brings a certain degree of solace. I have always felt that once someone has left this world, they can be anywhere. I can have a silent conversation with my father, an uncle, a friend, at any time, anywhere- why should being at their grave site make a difference. But somehow sitting there on the grass in the shade, thinking of Mitch in life, just being there did seem to make a difference. Made me feel closer. And though seven years have gone by, I find whenever I go I am still overwhelmed with sadness. At his not being here to see the sun shining and feel the warmth of another summer, to share the days with his wife, his 3 children, his mother and father. To hear his booming voice saying “hey, how are you?” Yet in the gentle rustling of the leaves in the wind I felt like I could almost hear it again.