Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On Dying

All my life I've assumed I would be cremated. Cemeteries seemed like such a waste of space. Kind of morbid even; but since we've been traveling, they've taken on a whole new meaning.

You can read books about an area, watch dvds about the history of a town, watch re-enactments that folks who love a place recreate to keep its' memory alive. But I find that going into a cemetery gives me a sense of people and place that I just can't find anywhere else. I find a certain serenity in these places that I really can't explain.

I also love the fact that cemeteries usually provide great photo opportunities.

Today, as we were running errands, we found an old cemetery that we've both overlooked all these years. It turns out it was first started in 1853 on a family ranch when their baby passed on at the tender age of six months. Now, it's the final resting place of hundreds of people from 1853 on up to today.

I took a lot of photos, but will just share a few.

It seems that most monuments
are marble or some kind of stone,
so this metal cross caught my eye.

The work on this piece is so stunning.
It's from 1900.
Here's a bit more detail
(click to enlarge if you like).

Many of the headstones here are in disrepair,
and quite a few are now falling on the ground.
These four stones under this tree
moved me to tears.
I love that someone still bothered
to place a flag.

This is a newer monument to a loved one.
I thought the large stone with the flowers
made such a lovely tribute.

I've saved the best for last.
While an interesting location,
this cemetery was short
on carved monuments.
She was the only one,
and I thought she was quite beautiful.

I must admit, visiting these cemeteries has really changed my mind on the whole idea of cremation. In years to come, whole generations will no longer be represented in this manner, which I think is kind of a shame. I have to tell you, the flat stones that are sunk into the ground don't come anywhere near the ambiance of an old cemetery, complete with mausoleums and monuments.

With that said, I'll probably still be cremated, but I think it's kind of a shame. We're losing a sense of history that can't be duplicated anywhere else.

We've decided we're going to delve a bit more into the local cemeteries, and see what other interesting tidbits we can find.


Donna K said...

LOVED your post and photos. That lady is indeed beautiful. At one time I had a crazy idea to write a history/photo book on old cemeteries that I came across. Like many of my high-falutin' ideas, this one died a slow death! But I share your affinity for the old, stately resting places of our ancestors and wish I had taken more photos of those I have visited. I don't find them morbid at all - a bit sad when you see the stones of those whose lives were cut short, but peaceful all the same. Although I share your sense of the loss of history, I still will be cremated simply because there is not enough land to sustain the generations to come in this manner - and also because the idea of being in the ground in a box just creeps me out!!! Scatter my ashes to the four winds and let them continue to take me places I have never seen before.

Gypsy Boho said...

I love to take photos in cemeteries. Here in South Louisiana we have lovely tombs. I especially like the older ones and their inscriptions. That ornate cross you photographed is awesome. I've seen some similar but not as beautiful.

Anonymous said...

So many of us have moved so often, and a cemetery near us when we die probably would have no significance to us or our families. I think of my own scattered loved ones, Grand parents in four places.

I've had the thought that our children should scatter our ashes in a special place that my wife and I discovered in one of life's serendipity moments. The kids know where it is, and future generations can visit there too. There's lots to experience there, besides ancestors ashes.

Just my take on the matter

Russ Krecklow said...

That was something we've been wanting to do, but haven't yet. Still an interesting thing that bekons. There are a lot of Pioneer Cemeteries in this area, and some of them have suffered from vandalism over the years. If we don't get to them to photograph, they may not be in very good shape later.

Kind of like old barns. We've wanted to photograph many, but haven't. Seems like now and then, one is totally gone, and it won't be too many years before most of them will follow the same fate, I'm thinking.

Me and My Dog said...

I agree. I want to be cremated, too, but love wandering in old cemeteries. There is so much history there.