A grave decoration

As Easter beckons and as my mate Lori’s first anniversary draws near, I find myself thinking more and more about death – not that I have any intention of popping my clogs any time soon. I feel in some odd way that life is just beginning. Convinced as I am that I’ll live till the ripe old age of 87, I’ve time yet to fit in the odd piece of reflection.

In Hawaii earlier this year, I went to visit a cemetery. I’ve written before of this odd fascination I have with graves and tombstones and all things cemeterial (is there such a word?). While I thought it difficult enough to marry snowmen and sunshine, I found it a tad surreal to see the graves sporting Christmas trees, too.

IMG_2060 (800x600)IMG_2069 (800x596)

As with most of the cemeteries I’ve visited, the graves showed varying degrees of care and neglect. Some of the occupants seemed to have been the last in line, or perhaps the last in a line of those who cared enough to keep vigil. Oddly enough, although I rarely visit a town or city without paying my respects at the local graveyard, I have no great attachment to the graves of those deceased members in my own family. Perhaps it’s because the graves in Ireland are so sterile, so lacking personality, so … dead. Or then again, perhaps it’s because my close friends who have died have all eschewed a lasting marker and opted instead to be cremated.

IMG_2059 (800x600)

IMG_1389 (599x800)

I think (99.9% certain) that I’m going to opt for the burning, too. I’ve gotten used to having a little bit of Lori sitting on my kitchen table and find myself talking to her quite regularly. I know she’s been working her magic for me and I’ve seen first hand the results of her interventions on my behalf. And, of course, there’s the beauty that ashes are so portable. Physical graves are all well and good for those who stay put and are available to tend their dead, but I’ve seen too many  testify to the transience of time and memory.  The Jewish cemetery in Budapest is a case in point.

Hawaiians are a happy people despite being nearly eradicated by disease when Captain Cook discovered the islands. This celebration of life shows even in their death. Perhaps the most poignant of all the graves I saw that day was a simple white cross around which a wild tomato vine was bearing fruit. This juxtaposition of life and death was a beautiful reminder than even in death, the dead live on.

IMG_1405 (800x593)

8 replies
  1. Caroline Mercer
    Caroline Mercer says:

    That ones life might be considered in retrospect to have been, and to continue to be, passing through a series of phases. Some the result of the touching of others lives upon ones own; as well as events, both good and shocking.
    An awareness of the precious value of time, opportunities

    Reply
  2. Caroline Mercer
    Caroline Mercer says:

    May I continue,) I and my computer are clearly not on the same wave length this morning !!!!)
    ,opportunities, or to properly evaluate the priorities of “opportunities”, such as, it will be better “next year”, Next year might never come, but if it does, nothing else will be the same and last years “opportunity ” will be lost for ever. This years children aren’t there next year, they too have moved on !!
    And that’s only one thought on a lost opportunity, how many more are there ?
    To me, it’s a lasting shame and pity, that generally the value of the unknown “allotment” of our lives is not appreciated until a considerable part of that “allotment” has passed.
    Maybe, spending time in the resting places of those who have left us all behind. (if indeed they have) Those too who probably became aware of their lost opportunities, may help us to realise the immense value of what we have, need to value and prioritise for the benefit of others rather than directly for ourselves. Today is as unique as we are. Never to be repeated.
    C.M>

    Reply
  3. Caroline Mercer
    Caroline Mercer says:

    It’s only “me C.M.”
    Our memorials are in the mind’s of those who remain, those who truly knew us. They remember us perhaps for some of the love we gave, as well the enduring hurt and pain that we might also have left behind.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] mentally compared the gaily decorated graves I found in Hawaii which lie in stark contrast to the Jewish cemetery in Budapest and wondered what I’d prefer. […]

  2. […] marked absence of flowers and candles. I wonder what Muslims in Hawaii do, given the locals’ penchant for decoration? In the province of Istanbul, there are 333 cemeteries, apparently, of which 268 are Muslim. The […]

  3. […] to survive and make the most of what we have is remarkable. For a minute, I thought back to that graveyard in Hawaii where the gravestones were decorated for Christmas. I remembered, too, the houses in the township I […]

  4. […] mentally compared the gaily decorated graves I found in Hawaii which lie in stark contrast to the Jewish cemetery in Budapest and wondered what I’d prefer. […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Talk to me...