Everyone is a fan of something – football, shopping, or binging on Netflix. I am a fan of cemeteries. Driving down the road, it is not unusual for me to shout at the driver, “Stop! We’re passing a cemetery!”
Currently, I’m babysitting in Denver, and I’m in pig-heaven. Not only do I have quality time with my grandson Jackson, but I’m only three blocks from Crown Hill Cemetery’s 240 beautifully landscaped acres. It is a park, of sorts, only lacking a sandbox, swings, and a slide. But the site’s beauty (too meticulous to my taste) and the headstones draw me. The 15-story mausoleum is definitely worth a visit. Personally, I’d rather be outside beneath the grass, but that’s another story.
Strolling through the cemetery, I note the headstones: O’Toole, Palovich, Hirsch, Hernandez, Lcam Ngoc Xe, Simmo, Ivanovich, Yoshinara, Di Donato… all those nationalities sleeping side-by-side without a bit of animosity or rancor. Amazing! Something to think about.
Along the way, there’s a memorial stone of a beautiful, young, Russian couple. Beneath their photo is a Bible verse: Isaiah 57:1. The verse reads: The righteous is taken away from the evil to come. And instantly my Swiss cheese memory flit back maybe 30 years. I was teaching at Pueblo Community College and a took a good deal of interest in my students’ lives. In particular, I kept tabs on one of my pregnant students, and when her baby was born, I bought a baby gift. Weeks later, the baby died, and I went to the funeral.
How shocked I was to hear the minister saying how blessed the mother was. Her baby died in grace and would never experience the pain of living to maturity.
I couldn’t believe my ears! I think that had I not been in church, I would have walked out… maybe slamming the door on my way. How blessed? Aside from a bad Russian/English translation involving subject/verb agreement, what was I missing?
I looked up commentary on the verse. A couple of ‘takes’ on the verse follow: The righteous do suffer by oppression and distress at what is going on around them, but they die in faith and enjoy their eternal reward. Hm.m.m. Not quite right.
How about: Good people pass away, the godly often die before their time. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. Ah! That interpretation is closer to the bone. Hogwash!!
My husband and I are going to settle down in the Rosita Cemetery, a rough and tumble place which goes back to the birth of the silver mining town in 1870. The Rosita Cemetery makes up for its lack of landscaping with its rich heritage and family plots with names that resonate with those of us who live near and plan to live there. I’ll need to clear out the Prickly pear that is creeping towards my resting place, and we’ll need a bench under the pines – a place to visit while we’re still above ground. I’m thinking about maybe hosting a small party before we’re interred so people will remember the cemetery as a happy place.
Last November visiting family in Sedona, we went up to the old mining town of Jerome, and one display window in particular caught my attention. Perhaps the display was leftover from Halloween. But no matter, to me it was timeless – good for any season of any year. Of course I took a picture, and this picture perfectly dovetails with a poem I recently discovered by Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937). You probably know her as the author of her Pulitzer Prize winning “The Age of Innocence.” Wharton’s poem is titled “Song,” and I’ll just share the first and third stanzas.
Let us be lovers to the end, / O you to whom my soul is given, / Whose smiles have turned this earth to heaven, / Fast holding hands as we descend / Life’s pathway devious and uneven, / Let us be lovers to the end.
Let us be lovers to the end / And, growing blind as we grow old, / Refuse forever to behold / How age has made the shoulders bend / and Winter blanched the hair’s young gold. / Let us be lovers to the end.
Be thinking what you plan to bring to my funeral. I plan to follow the Egyptian custom of bringing something that I will want in the next world. Books, of course, and maybe a bottle of wine or dark Stout. I’ll need a computer or a Tablet at the very least, and don’t forget that I’ve never said, “No” to eating a Snickers.
I plan to enjoy myself.