Friday, June 26, 2009
You want to be buried where???
By Lonnie Cruse
Well, you all know me. Have camera, will travel, will blog about it. The above pictures are of the old Lindsey Cemetery near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Most modern cemeteries are placed on fairly level land, but this old one is on a hillside. An extremely STEEP hillside. Think nosebleed section in a HUGE gymnasium.
Unfortunately you really can't see from the pictures just how steep it is because I'm parked inside the area at the first level, but imagine trying to place flowers for your loved ones on the highest points. You'd be risking life and limb. Both pictures were taken with the zoom lens as far out as it would zoom. In the center of the top picture, yes, those ARE ancient headstones. Can you imagine trying to dig those graves with nothing but a shovel back then, before the advent of backhoes, and trying to keep yourself from rolling downhill at the same time?
So, where do you want to be buried? Have you given that any thought? Too touchy a subject to consider? Too morbid? You must be young. The older you get, the less that matters, and the more you want to make those decisions so your family won't have to.
I confess, I love old cemeteries, and we sometimes stop to explore an interesting looking one. You can read the history of a family there, mostly the heartache. Five tiny graves lined up in a neat row in an ancient graveyard in The Land Between The Lakes area of Western Kentucky are there most likely because the mother was pregnant year after year in a day when modern medical advances that save many infants didn't yet exist. Often husbands and wives are buried side by side, the dates showing how long one lived on without the other. And, as our minister recently pointed out, the little dash between the birth and death dates on a headstone represent a person's entire life. What happened to that person during that little dash between birth and death? Was that life good or bad? Was he or she successful or a failure? Loved or hated? Busy or bored? The list goes on and on.
You can usually spot an old, out of use cemetery, or at least the oldest part of a newer one where lots are still sold, by the tall monuments, most of which are no longer even allowed. To facilitate mowing, most cemeteries now only allow flat markers that are lower than the surrounding grass, and don't even get me started on flowers and how fast they wind up in the ditch after a loving family member placed them at the headstone.
Speaking of headstones, the oldest we've ever come across marks the grave of a Kentucky man who, as a young boy, served as drummer for his regiment in the Revolutionary War. He later married, had a family, lived out his life, and now rests deep in the woods, again on top of a high hill, and what is it with these hills? Were they used as cemeteries because that part of the land couldn't be plowed or planted? Where was I?
Nobody wants to think about their own death. Yet mystery writers think about it, research it in depth, play with it in our minds, and write about it over and over. And sometimes we get ideas and/or character names from our research, be it the obits or wandering through a cemetery. For their part, mystery readers read about death, book after book, and don't turn a hair. Is it because we all tell ourselves it's only fiction? Are we blind to our own mortality? I don't know.
I do know that hubby and I have made our own plans and written our decisions out for our grown sons, hopefully making a difficult time easier for each other and/or for them. As to being buried on a steep hill that only a mountain goat could visit? No thanks. For me, cremation and scattering on the beautiful lake where we spent so many happy hours with our boys when they were small. And if you want me to have flowers, please send 'em now. When I can still enjoy them. Thanks.