Friday, November 29, 2013

London, United Kingdom

Books in the Contiguous Zone:  By the grave of George du Maurier someone has left a copy of Peter Pan, a tribute not to the author (who is buried in Scotland) but to the family who inspired the play and novel, the family of cartoonist George du Maurier. Hampstead, now a part of London, is Peter's hometown and a pilgrimage site for people in love with the idea that they will never grow old, an idea hardly supported by a cemetery. St. John-at-Hampstead Churchyard. [2005]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Books in the Contiguous Zone:  Cemetery tourism is almost a sport among the literati. Bibliophiles score goals when they find the graves of favorite authors or the characters who inspired their novels. Rev. Anson Dodge inspired The Beloved Invader. He lost his first wife on a honeymoon in India, sought out a new life on St. Simon's Island, married again, sired and then lost his only son in a tragic accident. How many goals scored here?  Five. The reverend, his two wives, his three-year old son, and Eugenia Price herself. The book? Brought here by literary pilgrims. Christ Church Cemetery. [2009]

Monday, November 25, 2013

Norfolk, Virginia

Books in the Contiguous Zone:  Ever think of leaving a book by the grave instead of a bouquet?  What would the book be?  365 Things Every Couple Should Know, perhaps.  Here, the secular challenges the sacred for supremacy in the cemetery.  In the past, only the Bible would have been acknowledged as the font of everything a couple should know.  Now, for comfort, we turn to popular culture.  Forest Lawn Cemetery.  [2007]


Friday, November 22, 2013

Montgomery, Alabama

The Book of Life:  The Book of Life is the Book of Promise, the Bible. Its presence adds another dimension, an eternal dimension, to a three-dimensional memorial. Read the date of birth and the date of death, along with their introductions: On Earth / Heaven.  Perhaps we do exist eternally and our few years On Earth are just what we see "through a glass darkly" while we are on a much longer journey. Alabama Heritage Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Beckley, West Virginia

The Book of Life:  Here's a book that has been co-authored by a husband-and-wife team.  Their motto seems to be:  In God We Trust.  What a shame the American dollar has claimed that phrase and moved it from the realm of the sacred to the realm of economics and politics.  What a shame the Matherly's great grandchildren will have to ask their parents:  What's a book?  Sunrise Memorial Park.  [2010]


Monday, November 18, 2013

Springfield, Massachusetts

The Book of Life:  The body is locked away in the vault below.  The memories are locked away in the book of life.  It's all rather mysterious really.  No matter how thick our book is or how many prizes it has won, no one will ever read it.  For a while, oral book reviews and a few quotes from friends and family will swirl around in the human world, but time will eventually claim all memories, just as time will eventually claim all the books ever written.  Oak Grove Cemetery.  [2013]


Friday, November 15, 2013

Port Penn, Delaware

Hickory Grove Cemetery:  Here's a cemetery plot that's full of life, thanks to those left behind.  The memorial landscape is a total ensemble of loving memories:  headstone, garden, tree, shingles, bench, treasure chest, words, portrait, and the logos of life.  Trees, as memorials, have roots in the ancient world.  The Scots called them clootie trees, and to them they tied little piece of cloth.  Here, the clooties have been replaced with slate shingles:  on one side they carry a word of respect for the departed, on the other the signature of a friend or relative.  Under the bench is a treasure chest:  Would you need to open it to know what's in it?  [2013]

2 Timothy 4:6-8


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Port Penn, Delaware

Hickory Grove Cemetery:  Memorials often act like mirrors:  they reflect scenes from the environment around them.  Many mallards must the McNally's have watched from their home on the water.  And, many fish must Mr. Smith have reeled in from those same waters.  The Delaware River flows right through this graveyard.  [2013]


Monday, November 11, 2013

Port Penn, Delaware

Hickory Grove Cemetery:  The stodgy old part of Hickory Grove would be totally unremarkable were it not for the nearby light tower, the Liston Rear Range Light. The principle holds: what surrounds a cemetery is just as important as what's in a cemetery when it comes to creating a vivid sense of place. As the cemetery has expanded and old norms demolished, new headstones seem to take their cue from the coastal environment. See the lighthouse on the Hazzard stone? Then, there is the stone obelisk, which is meant to shine an equally bright, albeit symbolic, beacon across the graveyard. The two towers compete to be the first to attract attention. [2013]

Friday, November 8, 2013

White Pine, Tennessee

Palliative Poetry:  Perfect for the memorial.  Like 2Pac, he died before his time.
   When my heart can beat no more
   I hope I die for a principle
   Or a belief that I had lived 4
   I will die before my time
   Because I feel the shadows depth
   So much I wanted to accomplish
   Before I reached my death
   I have come 2 grips with the possibility
   And wiped the last tear from my eyes
   I loved all who were positive
   In the event of my demise
                                  Tupac Shakur
Edwards Chapel Cemetery.  [2009]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bethany, Missouri

Palliative Poetry:  This poem by an anonymous author is short enough to find its way onto many headstones.
   Those we love remain with us
   For love itself lives on.
   And cherished memories never fade
   Because a loved one's gone....
   Those we love can never be
   More than a thought apart.
   For as long as there is memory,
   They'll live on in the heart.
Meriam IOOF Cemetery. [2008]

Monday, November 4, 2013

Aurora, Colorado

Palliative Poetry:  This poem by Ron Tranmer is frequently found on cemetery memorials.
   The Broken Chain
   We little knew that morning that
   God was going to call your name.
   In life we loved you dearly.
   In death we do the same.
   It broke our hearts to lose you,
   you did not go alone;
   for part of us went with you,
   the day God called you home.
   You left us peaceful memories,
   your love is still our guide;
   and through we cannot see you,
   you are always at our side.
   Our family chain is broken
   and nothing seems the same,
   but as God calls us one by one,
   the chain will link again.
 Eastlawn Memorial Gardens.  [2013]


Friday, November 1, 2013

Summerville, South Carolina

Halloween Goeth:  The eve of All Saints' Day is over, but the holiday itself is here. All over the Christian world, but not in the United States, families will take flowers to the graves today to celebrate the earthly lives of departed souls. Tomorrow is All Souls' Day, the last day of Hallowmas, after which all living souls will turn their attention to Christmas. Summerville Cemetery. [2012]