After the Friday afternoon of cooking that I enjoyed so much, it seemed unnecessary to return to homework on Saturday.
I ended up packing the car and driving over to the Pullman cemetery, located on the hill behind the new Walmart. Before last weekend I had not known it existed, but leaving the supercenter we had seen it illuminated on the hill; huge, old maples making the whole place glow with a yellow light.
I like cemeteries. Throughout high school I worked, with the help of my sister and a couple of friends, to keep things up at the Newcastle Cemetery. Most of what we did was scrubbing headstones and cutting back weeds. Every now and then someone dressed up in period clothing and we’d stage a ghost photo shoot, doing double exposures with my camera.
Cemeteries are amazingly peaceful to me. The one in Pullman has a number of benches placed throughout, and I couldn’t help but think about just sitting down for awhile to read, crochet, or just watch the world go by. The deciduous trees are making everything a beautiful shade of yellow right now, and the sun was shining – it was just a beautiful day. I’d been prompted to go to the cemetery because the sun was out, and it allowed me to get some pretty good photos of the headstones I found most interesting.
The stones that usually stand out to me are those of children. Sometimes it’s a child, “aged 4 years, 3 months, 2 days” other times an infant, with only one date carved into the stone. I imagine it would be heartbreaking to lose a child; all those unrealized opportunities. And I think that a burial shows the commitment these people made to their children, because stones aren’t cheap! I suppose that having your child (anyone, really) in a cemetery somewhere gives you closure. It provides a place to visit and mourn, and I find it to be a very strong reminder of just how valuable life is.
When seeing those stones that have life-lengths measured out to days I can’t help but wonder if these people really valued life so much that they thought about how long they’d been here, and how long they might have left.
The other thing that caught my eye was the inclusion of wedding anniversaries on the stone. There was one stone in particular, which I read from the back first. There was a quote there “A Lifetime with you is simply not enough, And that is why I’m so glad We have eternity.” And at first I thought it was merely a nice sentiment. Then, walking around to read the front of the stone, my heart swelled up a little bit and my breath caught in my throat as I realized that both of the people buried there had the same death date. December 23, 1996. And they had only been married the year before; relatively young people, too. Suddenly the quote held more weight, because these people really did not have life together, but would be forever united in death. And those instances just illustrate to me how quickly everything can change, how fast the future you planned for can be completely altered. It’s just another little reminder to live in the present as much as possible.
Another thing that really stood out to me was the large plot of Youngs that I discovered. The name isn’t necessarily uncommon, but it definitely made me do a double take and have to catch my breath when I saw my own last name carved in large letters on a number of the stones. Walking around to examine them more closely, I gasped a little bit and then chuckled, as I found a stone bearing my dad’s name (same middle initial and all). Weird.
This last photo is of a small stone that reads Father, and nothing else. The more I think about it, the more I absolutely love it. Because who is the burial for? The family, or at least people who actually know the individual. And really, it’s none of my business as to who is buried there, when he died, and how he lived his life. The stone is there for the people who knew and loved him to visit and reflect on the man they knew – the man who was such an integral part of his family that Father is the name they chose to represent him with.