I’d driven past these pillars and gate dozens of times. They lie in a busy intersection in the middle of a town nearby. The traffic light on the corner forcing those caught at a red to glance over, and maybe, if they are of the sort, to wonder who must be buried there, what the stones look like, when the ground was hallowed for such use. You would think I was of that sort, but evidently I only became that sort after seeing the same pillars and gates for years. I cannot tell you why the thought of stopping never dawned on me. I’d been to the very large cemetery in that town, wandered it’s roads and by ways for hours, but this one, no, I’d never stopped.
And then I did. It was sort of an after thought. I had been somewhere else, and thought “I’ve some time left, why not see what’s there.” I parked on the side street and went up the back way as it seemed this gate was locked. As I got to the top of the hill I was…well..confused. There was a flag pole. There was a large granite monument with names inscribed on a brass plaque. A few other standing large stones, maybe three. But that was it! This is a cemetery? It looked like a wide open park at the top of a hill. And then I began walking. Buried in the ground, all laying down, were the stones of ages ago. Some in pieces, some almost grown over with grass and moss and bush. It was early spring and a few could barely be seen under the debris of a long winter gone by.
But they were there. As I walked I came upon row after row. Reading the front monument I found that around 1976 a committee decided to “restore” the old cemetery, I suppose they were the ones who laid all the stones down. It made me shiver. I see personas in stones, I see hope and love and pride. Yes, the body lies down, but the stone rises above, etched for as long as the elements will allow, proudly declaring a name, dates, and maybe a final cherished sentiment. These stones spoke to me of the sadness of loss, the victory of death. 1. Corinthians 15:55: “Oh death where is thy victory, oh grave, where is thy sting?” I say here, here it is! These precious stones, the last gift from loved ones, the monument built and engraved to remember your name for all the ages to come – lying down in the dirt with you. Did the folks who made the decision to do this consider the destruction this would cause? Puddles of rain, acid dirt, roots, snow – all laying on the face now – pushing the heavy stone further into the ground. I chose to record some epitaphs from this location before they were gone forever;
My friends that live to mourn and weep,
to see the grave wherein I sleep.
Prepare for death for you must die,
and be entom’d as well as I.
“Beneath This Earth” © TCWPHOTOGRAPHY all rights reserved
Dear Lovely babe repose in peace
Now all thy worldly sorrow cease
Soon is thy mortal journey run
Ere’ scarse arisen sets thy sun.
“Baby John” ©TCWPHOTOGRAPHY all rights reserved
Too many of the stones were covered over more than my little pocket knife could cut away, acorns littered the ground everywhere, and filled the gaps between stone and grass in huge gatherings, their decomposition aiding in the demise of the words so long ago chiseled there.
I hope to return soon. I may place a few flowers. I may brush away the dirt and debris again. I may photograph more – but in time these will turn to nought but shards of broken memories in the dust.
Griefly greetings –