A visit to the cemetery on a hot June afternoon. My brother suggested that it was time for us to drive the 2 1/2 hour distance to visit our parents’ graves way out in Long Island, New York.
The experience of seeing the “cemetery world” of Long Island is quite remarkable. Acres and acres, miles and miles of tombstones, headstones and monuments are all you can see from the highway in both directions. One cemetery at a time gives up its land to the dearly departed.
“The owners must have bought this land when it was worth nothing,” said Jerry. “They had no idea how built up Long Island would become some day. That land must be worth a fortune now.”
We literally needed a map to find our way to the graves we were searching for.
Most of the tombstones had typical words on them like, “Beloved mother, wife and sister.” Or “Beloved father, husband and brother.” We thought it was interesting that the wording said nothing about the person, or what they ascribed to in life or what became of them throughout their journeys on top of the earth. It said only what role they played in their relatives’ lives. But what they thought, believed or accomplished went unnoticed by those in charge of wording the tombstone.
One of the strangest one we saw said, “He did his best.” What did that mean? He tried but failed? He wasn’t up to the task? He was a loser? I wouldn’t want to go through eternity with that epitaph, making anyone who reads it think any of those thoughts.
A comic once wrote that he had a friend who was a terrible hypochondriac. His tombstone said: “I TOLD you I was sick!” But that’s a joke, not a real situation.
I couldn’t believe the corniness of one plagiarized tombstone I saw today, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” That’s a line from Eric Siegel’s best selling book and popular movie starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw.
What was it doing on a tombstone? And what’s its significance?
It was a good idea to pay respects to our parents’ grave sites, but as for me, I would prefer to stay away from cemeteries for as long into the future as I possibly can.
Comments on: "CEMETERY VISIT" (22)
Families are spread so far apart, and are unable to maintain a gravesite. You also raised a valid question about the amount of land used for the dead, Ronnie: “Is that custom sustainable for the future?”
Interesting…. very interesting. I don’t mind cemeteries because they are usually so quiet and peaceful and beautiful. Our first efficiency apartment was across the street from a cemetery. 🙂
You must have seen some sad scenes there: people arriving for funerals.
They’re not for me either…dead or alive!
But there is a feeling that paying respects to the dead is expected…
Burial? Cremation? I want more options!!
Would you prefer to be blasted out to space and spend eternity with the planets and stars?
Yes, stay far away! My mother’s parents are in Paramus– huge Jewish cemetery now behind a shopping strip. We used to go once a year but now she can’t make the trip. My father’s parents are in New Haven, not far for him, but no one goes. Odd custom, I think. We haven’t bought plots– and need to at least plan as our kids disagree about what we should do. (burial vs cremation). When I did visit with my mother, I liked reading the names– so many have returned in new babies.
In smaller cemeteries, like the one in Passaic where my in-laws are it’s like a trip down memory lane to walk through and read the names.
Here, it’s common nowadays to bury the deceased in his or her land than to do so in the cemetery. My late grandparents where buried in their compound.
That’s a lovely custom, but here people move around a lot more and have no compound or old family home. That life-style of moving so much may have started with large corporations moving families around the country for the good of the company.
I’m with you on this. There’s a weird Necropolis, called Brookwood, outside London that has its own railway station as it is so vast. I don’t find cemeteries peaceful; I find them depressing. We, in the West, seem to have a great difficulty in coming to terms with one of the only certainties in our lives.
I was so taken with the amount of land used for the dead. Is that custom sustainable for the future?
This is a place I want to avoid for the rest of my life… but I do love the old grave yards that pop up where you least expect them… here we find them all over from the Boer Wars.. most interesting some of them.. so well looked after in the bush, you wonder who does that…
How interesting to find old graves from the Boer War. What an interesting question about who cares for them; first I thought “the families,” but generations of families caring for those gravesides? I don’t think so.
There must be some attraction to cemeteries…, people are just dying to get in them !
In a more serious grain, I have to agree with you. They are not places you would want to go to visit. I’ll get there soon enough !
Whenever someone suggested to my father that he take a nap he used to say, “I’ll be dead a long time and will sleep plenty then.”
Smart man…, and he was totally correct, Ronnie.
Sounds awful… on the other hand I love little country churchyards in England, with tombstones and epitaphs going back for hundreds of years… full of history…
There is a historic cemetery in Boston that is so beautifully landscaped and so scenic that it is a tourist attraction. Famous literary figures are buried there, and it a strangely appealing place to walk through.
Amen and Amen!
Agreed; and I advise you from getting too close to them either.