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7.31.2011

GETTING TO THE CEMETARY

Out for a bike ride last evening, we tooled through the large cemetery just before dusk.  At first it was just a cool, shady place to ride.  Quiet and still it was a restive ride before the day slipped into night.  I found myself looking at names on head stones as I pedalled by.  Then, I looked at year of birth and year of death.  I pondered at why there were so many gaudy, plastic flowers strewn here and there.  Did the dead like tacky things?  How did the cemetery caretakers mow around all those headstones and paraphernalia that adorn the base of the big mausoleums?  I told my husband to please not put tacky flowers on my grave.  Then I laughed and reminded him that since I wanted to be cremated he wouldn't have too.  We stopped to wander around a bit, drawn to the almost now white and worn headstones from the 1800's.  Some were pre Civil War and 150 years of weather had worn away the names and dates.  Who was there beneath the ground I wondered?  How had no one noticed the engraving was being worn away?  Why had no one fixed it before it was too late - the person's name gone, lost?  What had their lives been like?  I saw one head stone buried nearly completely in the ground.  Someone had tried to pry back the earth that had edged its way over top.  The corner was white with age and the words not visible.  That headstone had become just like the body in the ground, back to the earth - dust to dust, ashes to ashes.  I got lost for a time in the significance and creation of God for each of those persons that were laid in death there.  He loved them, had a plan for their years on the earth.  They had been loved hopefully on earth, but definitely by God.  I thought about how we labor and toil, pleasure and dream, hurt and hope and then are buried somewhere.  One hundred years goes by and we are replaced totally.  The cycle of life.  My life, when over, will be eventually like pulling your hand out of a bucket of water...there will be no real visible sign of me.  Why then do I labor for things on this earth so deeply?  Maybe the gypsies (other than their life of crime) had a clearer view of the transientness of life.  I saw other head stones that were beautiful, majestic even - no doubt expensive.  There were small family owned mausoleums with beautiful inscriptions and plant life highlighting the stone.  One headstone had an intricate tree embossed in the stone.  If I wanted a headstone and a grave, I would like one with a big tree with branches on it signifying my love of nature.  There were several interesting ones.  Like the two that both died at 50 years of age and had their pictures air brushed on the stone.  The man, with a pimp sort of hat and suit, had the nick name "Flim Flam" above his legal name.  It made me giggle.  I sort of liked it though as it helped me know what that now decaying body in the ground had once looked like.  It helped me envision the life of "Flim Flam" a bit better.  I pedalled away from the cemetery knowing that God creates all life, gives it purpose and then in our humanity's limits, we cease to live in the physical world any longer.  Heading home we rode by a house where there were kids playing in the background.  It was though a bit disturbing when they called out to us, "Hey old people!".  Fitting it was as I am, I suppose, en route to the cemetery so to speak.

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