Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Down Among the Dead Men

I have a friend who is part of a paranormal investigations group. They look into hauntings and other assorted weirdness, and we chat about it sometimes. I, myself, would be useless to them - wherever I am, ghosts are not. No kidding, I grew up in a haunted house that was never haunted when I was there. I was so disappointed.

No matter how haunted a place is, when I'm there, nothing happens. not a creak, not a groan, nothing.


So anyway, my friend mentioned that they're moving away from residential cases for a bit and looking into graveyards. I opined that the graveyard near where Mum lives could be interesting. It supposedly has at least one ghost, not that I would know (no, I'm not bitter or anything)...

I drove up there with my friend today to show her around. I was child-free thanks to Someone, so it was a rare bit of grown-up time. Mum joined us for our look-around.

I enjoy the graveyard there. It's old, and has people in it from the Revolution and the Civil War, and the graves of soldiers are usually marked with little plaques and flags, which I think is nice.
It's also quiet. I find graveyards restful places. Since the dead and I are not on haunting terms, I don't have to worry about odd noises, lights, or cold spots. No hands rising out of the ground to snag my unwary foot and drag me down to the zombies' feast.

Instead, there is quiet, and stillness, and a kind of bubble of Zen that surrounds the places where the dead sleep. There are trees in this graveyard, planted with the people to mark their graves. Long after the corporeal remains of the people are gone, the trees strive ever upwards until time, aided by wind and weather, pull them down.
Lately, the town has been trying to tidy up the place, making a pathway so people don't walk all over the graves, placing benches that make for more polite seating than tombs, and doing a bit of planting as well.
They've cleaned a few of the gravestones, but not all of them. I hope they leave some alone - I like the mossy stone.

While most of the stone markers are simple, often slabs engraved with names and dates, a few are fancier, reflecting a sort of Victorian sensibility about death.
Even in death we are not eternal. There is something about the oldest graves, sinking into the earth, stones rubbed blank by the passing of decades, centuries, anonymous after all.

I don't want to live forever, not even in death. I'd like to be cremated and scattered in a forest, or made into a reef ball and placed somewhere interesting. It won't matter when I'm dead - I sincerely doubt I'll care about the disposition of my carcass. It's for the living, this planning of burial, cremation, or whatever. It's for the ones left behind who (one may hope) mourn our passing. For them we make plans, and a little for our own comfort, too, I suppose. We like the idea of immortality, we humans, the idea that even after were are gone, something of us lingers.

At the graveyard, there are still living folk who come and look after the dead. Not kin, not any more - the kin have all died or moved on, I suppose, leaving the silent dead to fend for themselves, but townsfolk who like to hold on to a little history people who look with interest and maybe even concern upon what remains of the remains and the guardian stones that mark heads (and, in some cases, feet), and one or two ghost hunters hoping for the big score - a photo or sound recording of the dearly not-quite-departed.

As for me, I had a lovely walk among the toppling stones, begging the pardon of the people I may have inadvertently stepped on (I would hate to wake someone from a hundred-years' nap - imagine how cranky they would be!), reading names and dates and stories where I could see them, and wondering about the stones rubbed smooth, about who rested there and what they were like in life.


Momlady said...

I enjoyed the walk and will look for other places. Btw....I don't do very well trying to figure out the letters below.

Holly said...

I'm like you; I find them incredibly restful. A place where you can feel quiet and not worry about feeling it. A place where you can take a deep relaxing breath.

Michael and I like to visit old ones...it's so amazing how different we used to be about marking death as a passage and using it as an example of things that need consideration by those we leave behind.

I don't know if you knew this or not, but My Lion is a funeral director, so this whole topic is very much a focus of lots of our conversations. I'm sad that a great deal of the ritual of living and dying is being stripped from our lives.

And, you and I are different in that, I'm a magnet for those who are no longer here. If they're out and about in a home or place, they'll let me know. I suppose it's refreshing when they don't feel invisible even if only for a brief while.

Hugs to you this day.