Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grave Matters

I was feeling really grumpy today. The new lens in my left eye has not yet corrected my nearsightedness, but has definitely robbed me of my close-up vision, so I can't read fine print anymore without a magnifier. It has improved my middle-distance vision, so now I can clearly see all my wrinkles and all the toothpaste spatters on the bathroom sink and all the cat hair all over my clothes -- all things I was blithely oblivious of before. Of course, my old glasses just give me a headache, now, but I can't see through my right eye without them. So yeah, I was feeling cranky. I should have gone for a hike somewhere, but the day got away from me, and soon there wasn't time for anything more than a walk around town. So where did I go to cheer up? I went to the cemetery!

Actually, it's a beautiful cemetery, with rolling hills and ancient trees, stately obelisks rising toward the sky, stone monuments carved with angels and weeping willows, and elaborate mausoleums like miniature Greek temples or Gothic churches. And it's just a short walk from my home.

One of the mausoleums has exquisite stained-glass windows, perhaps by the master Tiffany himself. I could barely see a part of one window through the protective panes that had been installed to protect the stained glass from vandals. I thought this photo was interesting for how the reflected tree branches merged with the outlines of the angel's wings.

Here's another angel, one left on a grave, along with a cat named Moe.

I found it fascinating to see the mementos left on the graves by family members and friends. Angels and flags and pebbles and plastic flowers were the most frequent offerings, but I can't recall ever seeing an offering of Scooby Doo dressed up like Santa, or figurines from the Wizard of Oz. This grave had it all. Even a banner saying Ho Ho Ho!

I just had to laugh out loud.

This person's survivors are ready for Christmas already. What a great idea, to install a bench instead of a headstone! A nice way to accommodate graveside visitors who want to just sit and remember someone they loved.

Readers of my blog will know why I stopped to study this gravestone. His family has engraved it with what must have been his idea of heaven (and mine!). Even (or especially!) without the angels.

All these grave decorations brought a big smile to my face, so I went to sit on my own grave site in a happier mood (my husband and I own plots on a pretty hillside surrounded by tall White Pines and Norway Spruce). I lay back on the grass, which was mixed with Wild Thyme perfuming the ground where I lay. I gazed up into the trees above me and saw this beautiful crescent moon. That moon was telling me, "See now, Jackie, it's not so bad. Have patience, and everything will work out fine."

There's nothing like lying -- alive! -- among graves to help put things in perspective.

Then along came these geese with their haunting calls, passing between myself and the moon. I breathed a big Thank You out to the cosmos. All shall indeed be well.


Lindsey said...

Hey! I think my friend Mark and I were looking up at the crescent moon at the same time you were! And we were out walking in the forest lodged in the middle of Glens Falls and Queensbury, having a great time, and I woke up grumpy as well (for a different reason - my SAD is really kicking in with the dull sunlight and really short days).

That engraving is peaceful just to even look at.

Ellen Rathbone said...

I love visiting cemeteries. Especially old ones, which can be so beautiful. There's one next to the ESF/Su Campus in Syracuse that was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, of Central Park Fame, that is really quite lovely.

I'm sorry to hear your eye hasn't turned out as you hoped, but it's still early days...perhaps things will improve!

squirrel said...

Jackie, I am sorry to hear your eye is taking longer to heal than you expected. I wouldn't have ever thought of visiting the cemetery as a pick me up but I can see how this one would. Also thanks for visiting my blog and naming the unknown plant, I was secretely hoping you would.

Wanda..... said...

Hope your eye problem becomes better.
Lovely Cemetery you visited. My parents are buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cicinnati, it also is as beautiful as a national park.