Not forgotten.

April 26, 2013 § 5 Comments

Magnolia Cemetery, Apalachicola, FL.Here in the Magnolia Cemetery in Apalachicola, Florida, the dead lie comfortably at rest under live oaks and sparse grass, sand spurs and plaster cherubs, scripture verses and fading silk flowers.

Some of the dead have “Gone Fishing.” Some are “Gone But Not Forgotten,” although with a death date more than 50 years past, I wonder, are all those tasked with remembering beneath the grass as well?

Still, it’s a cheerful place to wait out eternity. Conflagrations of statuary; everything from lawn jockeys to saluting soldiers to┬ádime-store┬áchina dogs keep the dead company.

Grave gathering.It is easy to see that the living make regular visits.

Many family plots include a bench for the comfort of those not in repose. The artificial flowers, in permanent bloom, are refreshed regularly.

Walk the edges of the cemetery and you will find bright individual blooms wind scattered. They catch your eye, as if they were real. Treated with ultraviolet dyes they sometimes fool the bees and butterflies as well.

Walking the cemetery, I read stones, which often often bear little more than a name and a span of dates–a flash novel–but it is enough to start me speculating.

Some of those stories are unfinished, the birthdate carved, death date absent as if the carver is waiting to close the parentheses of a life.

Grave in Magnolia Cemetery.But most of the owners of these small scraps of real estate have come and gone from this world.

I compare the length of my mortal coil to theirs.

Birth dates that come after mine disturb me. What? Born in ’57 and dead already?

Then there are the ninety-plus-year-olds and I think, do I have it in me to go that long and not feel as if I have been left to dry on the tide line, cast up and irrelevant.

Many are labeled “Brother,” “Father,” “Mom.” No one lies down as a banker, lawyer, or a maid. Those who choose the inscriptions remember who the dead were in their own lives. To be forever remembered as a beloved wife and mother is not a bad thing.

My own people are not here. Most of them lie under northern oaks and dark pines in Rockland Cemetery in Sparkill, New York.

There, the ground freezes hard, and death has a more somber cast. There are flowers, yes, and what my family calls “grave blankets,” a winter arrangement of pine boughs, a single red bow, a branch of holly berries.

On some of the markers you will see a row of stones arranged as if on a windowsill. Each signifies a visit to the grave. I’ve come with a stone in my pocket and left with both my pocket and my heart empty.

Cheerful or somber, I will never be buried in a cemetery. I’m too cheap to pay for that hole in the ground, and all the trimmings.

I hope to be scattered in the sunlight somewhere, and like the silk flowers of Magnolia, travel on the wind.

But without the reminder that I should not be forgotten I hope I will be remembered as Mother, Good Neighbor, Wife, and Friend.

But that comes later.

While my life is still an open parentheses I will visit Magnolia Cemetery and get comfortable with death, which, appears to be not so sad after all, but more like a festive sendoff, with party hats.

Note: You can blow the images up by clicking on them. Ray’s photos are always worth the click.

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§ 5 Responses to Not forgotten.

  • craig reeder says:

    good sense not to want to be buried in a cemetery. having recently buried my father in law, I can attest that burial costs could possibly cause further fatalities of remaining family members who die suddenly of sticker shock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m not kidding!!!!!!!!!


  • deb reilly says:

    My brother died two weeks ago–his ashes cast upon the Intracoastal he loved. Each time I cross the river, I think of him and smile. No dated headstone, only river-grass glinting in the dusky light.


  • KM Huber says:

    Ray’s photos, as you say, are always worth an extra click and more than one look but these are quite stunning. I, too, wander a graveyard from time to time, although I will not “rest” there, either. Once beyond the physical plane, I think it best to go with the winds wherever.



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