Friday, December 15, 2017

Rosswell, New Mexico

Birthday Balloons:  He survived childhood and adolescence, but the third decade did him in. His family was grief stricken and still mourns. His birthday party has been moved to the cemetery, and birthday wishes have been sent heavenward on a Mylar balloon. Happy Birthday, Number 1! South Park Cemetery. [2016]

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Beckley, West Virginia

Birthday Balloons:  God's angels come for him the day he was born. The only birthday he had was the real one. You know, were he with us today, he would be loving his cars, and watching the movie, too! Happy Birthday, champ! Greenwood Memorial Park. [2014]

Monday, December 11, 2017

Jefferson City, Missouri

Birthday Balloons:  He may be gone, but there is no reason to stop celebrating his birthday. Now, however, the decorations must be moved grave side. Happy birthday, kid! Hawthorn Memorial Gardens. [2015]

Friday, December 8, 2017

Lyndon Center, Vermont

Balloon Rides to Heaven:  Take one last look at at the lake before you go where that airplane can't take you. Up, up, and away: beyond the clouds. With a little lift from the angels circling that balloon, you are about ready to exchange the Northeast Kingdom for the Heavenly Kingdom. Lyndon Center Cemetery. [2009]

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Port Republic, New Jersey

Balloon Rides to Heaven:  The angels must have been singing and playing their harps when he took that last balloon ride to the heaven. What hymn do you think would best fit the circumstances? St. Paul's United Methodist Church. [2015]

Monday, December 4, 2017

Cortland, New York

Balloon Rides to Heaven:  Why not go out with a little flare and fashion. Let your spirit depart this earth in a hot air balloon: up above the birds you rise, up above the sun. Take one last look at what your are leaving behind: Next stop is paradise! Cortland Rural Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, December 1, 2017

Siler City, North Carolina

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  The scene is set, but the names have yet to be added. Visit a monument company and you will have your choice of copy art, some of which you will identify with and some of which you won't. Perhaps a agricultural landscape is for you. No matter what the real farm looked like, this rendition of a generic farmstead might appeal to anyone who lived out their days farming the land. It may not have been their farm, but it was a farm. As for the couple: It may not have been them, but at least it's a couple! Chatham Monument Company. [2005]

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

New Millford, Pennsylvania

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  Some people take a headstone this size and use it for only names and dates. These farmers, however, saw a blank slate and wanted to fill it with some geography. They seem to have known that this would be their last view of life on earth, the view they would have as they glanced back just one more time on their flight to heaven. New Milford Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, November 27, 2017

Laurel, Delaware

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  Together they spent their life on the farm, and now they will be together forever. It was the farm that defined their life, their souls, and their family. It was with them every waking minute, and they probably dreamed about it at night. Now, the old tractor's empty. Perhaps the next generation decided they didn't want a life on the farm like their mom and dad. Odd Fellows Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, November 24, 2017

Millville, New Jersey

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  They're full of life and in the saddle, but they're getting ready to ride off into the sunset. Before they leave, however, they have stopped to take one last look at the family farm, perhaps with the intention of giving the kids and grand kids one last chance to wave goodbye to mom and dad, mom-mom and pop-pop. Greenwood Cemetery. [2016]

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Damascus, Maryland

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  Aerial oblique, but a sketch, not a photo. What crop did they pick to symbolize their connection to the land? Wheat, a symbol of resurrection. That fits the inclusion of a church, perhaps their church, way out there on the other side of the fence. Orthodox Syrian Church Cemetery. [2007]

Monday, November 20, 2017

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  Three silos: That's the mark of a prosperous operation. And, it looks like they needed more space in the old barn, too. Over the course of their lives, they probably saw the size of their herd, double and double again. They had to keep up with economies of scale. Springhill Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, November 17, 2017

Cynthiana, Kentucky

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  Farmers or miners? Both. Miners because they mined the family archives to find an 'old timey' photo of the farmstead when everyone was young and the tractor was new. Battle Grove Cemetery. [2015]

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Parkersburg, West Virginia

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  The aerial photo doesn't suggest farming, but the tractor does, and so does the horse. Perhaps a corner of the old farmstead was chosen for their new suburban home, a place where they could enjoy their golden years. Quiz time: What's the name of the river you see here? Mt. Olivet Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, November 13, 2017

Laurel, Delaware

One True Love ~ The Family Farm:  Judging from the number of buildings, this couple built a prosperous family business. Judging from the number of silos, they must have had some livestock to feed. Judging from the number of tractors, they must have had some cash crops to grow and sell. And, judging from the epitaph, they must have respected and loved the land they farmed: "A Great Love For The Land." Odd Fellows Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, November 10, 2017

Earth, Texas

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  "I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil - This is the gift of God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13. Earth Cemetery. [2016]

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Carroll, Ohio

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  Looking for a research topic? How about gender roles as depicted on cemetery memorials? Clearly he took care of things in the outside world, and she took care of things at home. Betzer Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, November 6, 2017

Dry Ridge, Kentucky

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  Maybe he and his tractor shared a single soul. It looks like the angels came for both of them. Or, maybe his tractor was the angel that carried him away to heaven. Judging from the empty seat, however, the tractor may have just dropped him off and returned to the farm. Hill Crest Cemetery. [2015]

Friday, November 3, 2017

Capeville, Virginia

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  The holy triumvirate: farm (symbolized by the tractor), country (symbolized by the stars and stripes), and God (symbolized by the steeple that backs up the churchyard). Capeville UMC Cemetery. [2016]

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Washington Court House, Ohio

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  A few years later, a lyricist, Jason Aldean, put it all in perspective: "And I can take you on a ride on my big green tractor, We can go slow or make it go faster, Down through the woods and out to the pasture, Long as I'm with you it really don't matter." So, maybe the tractor isn't always a farm boy's one true love! Washington Cemetery. [2016]

Monday, October 30, 2017

Brownfield, Texas

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  Of all the things he could have chosen to put on his memorial, he chose his tractor. Or, do you think it was his survivors who made the choice? One thing to look for whenever you see a tractor on a tombstone: Is the driver present or absent? Brownfield Cemetery. [2016]

Friday, October 27, 2017

Castleberry, Alabama

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  No riderless tractor here. Thanks to the 'rock of ages' and a skilled tombstone artist, this farmer will ride his tractor into eternity. Not just his tractor. His John Deere. Holland Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Zanesville, Ohio

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  In military funerals, a riderless horse sometimes follows the casket as it proceeds to the cemetery for burial. It is meant to symbolize a fallen warrior who will ride no more. Take that idea and apply it to the riderless tractor shown here. Pleasant Grove Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wilbraham, Massachusetts

One True Love ~ A Man and His Tractor:  Just a few generations ago, it might have been the love between a man and his horse. Then, the tractor replaced the horse. Still, it was something to ride and, therefore, something to love. So beloved was this man's tractor that he chose it as a defining element of his life, along with his wife, of course. She holds a bouquet of flowers as if ready to welcome him back from the fields. East Wilbraham Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dunham, Quebec

Canadian Epitaphs: "I rejoice in the ones I have loved and am waiting for the ones I love." Be thankful for the loved ones you have in the this life. And remember: We will be reunited with our loved ones in the next life. That's one of the biggest selling points Christianity has to offer! Dunham Cemetery. [2011]

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Morden, Manitoba

Canadian Epitaphs: "Death is Gain": That's one way of putting a positive spin on the end of life. Yet, even though that is what all Christians believe, most would like their souls and bodies to be united on terra firma as long as possible. Morden Memorial Gardens. [2012]

Monday, October 16, 2017

Blumenort, Manitoba

Canadian Epitaphs: Here's the puzzle: He carries a distinctly Russian Mennonite surname, which is found throughout Manitoba. (If it sounds German, that is because the Russian Mennonites originated in Germany.) The name alone would lead you to believe he was a profoundly religious soul. However, the epitaph betrays a touch of agnosticism: "If there is another world, he lives in bliss. If not another, he made the most of this." If nothing else, his headstone loudly proclaims a belief in Canada, a love of the land, and the freedom it provided his ancestors (see the eagle?). EMC Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pelham, Ontario

Canadian Epitaphs:  The epitaph comes from the lips of a departed couple, his and hers: 'It took a lifetime. But we finally got here.' That could be written on almost any headstone (save the very young). Every life ends in the same place, and we all work so hard to get there. Pleasantview Memorial Gardens. [2013]

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Granby, Quebec

Canadian Epitaphs: The epitaph comes form the lips of the departed: 'Look at my life as it began, and not as it ended.' He died young, and one suspects of a malady that made his last few months (maybe years) difficult for him and his family. Granby Cemetery. [2011]

Monday, October 9, 2017

Steinbach, Manitoba

Canadian Epitaphs:  The words to live by on the front of the headstone are drawn from the Bible verse on the verso. From Paul's letter to the Romans: "Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going to work and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering." Translated into a guiding aphorism: "How we live our days, is of course, how we spend our lives." Now, look up Romans 12:1 and see if it all makes sense. Heritage Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, October 6, 2017

Landmark, Manitoba

World Teachers' Day ~ October 5:  Lots of teachers don't have their profession commemorated on their headstones. One lies buried here, but we'll have to check back later to see what's on her permanent marker. She wasn't in the classroom long, but the love of her students ran deep. They could hardly believe she was killed in a biking accident over the summer. So young, and such a loss. Prairie Rose EMC Cemetery. [2012]

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Durango, Colorado

World Teachers' Day ~ October 5:  Over 100 countries in the world follow the lead of the U.N. and proclaim October 5 as national Teachers' Day. That does not include the U.S. Nevertheless, feel free to proclaim tomorrow as your own Teachers' Day. Say thank you to your kids' teachers, honor a teacher of your own, or visit a cemetery and see how many headstones you can find that proudly identify the departed as teachers. Greenmount Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, October 2, 2017

Canal Winchester, Ohio

World Teachers' Day ~ October 5:  UNESCO honors teacher organizations around the world on Thursday of this week. By now, schools around the world are in session (unless they've been devastated by hurricanes) and teachers should be about ready for a little 'thank you' from their communities. We are fortunate that so many people who devote their lives to teaching. Here's a woman who taught for 38 years. It looks like she started in her early 20s and retired in her late 50s. Union Grove Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, September 29, 2017

Weaverville, North Carolina

Fantastical Birds and Where to Find Them:  They are in a cemetery, but they are not dead. They are full-figured, but they are not granite sculptures. They are denizens of New Jersey, but they are not confined by bricks and mortar. They are wild turkeys, and their presence illustrates the role of the cemetery not only as an aviary, but also as a wildlife preserve. Cemeteries help keep cities green. West Memorial Park. [2012]

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kirkwood, New York

Fantastical Birds and Where to Find Them:  If you have even a small yard, set up a bird feeder, and watch clouds of fantastical birds appear. As I write this post, I am looking out the window at our feeder, which is filled with the fantastical: goldfinches, cardinals, woodpeckers, and sparrows. A few months ago, we even saw one very rare visitor, a painted bunting. Kirkwood Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Woodstown, New Jersey

Fantastical Birds and Where to Find Them: You can be sure this couple valued the wetlands that so characterize South Jersey. Cat-o-nine tails symbolize the marshes along the Delaware, and ducks come with every marsh. Just as this duck has "flown the coup," the soul departs earth for heaven above (hopefully)! Lawnside Cemetery. [2015]