Print Story I Think About the Dead A Lot More These Days
By atreides (Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 12:16:20 AM EST) (all tags)
This is the view from my front porch on a rainy day...

Proximity to a cemetery has been making me think a lot more about those who have gone before. What you're looking at is actually the back half of this cemetery, an annex for the original cemetery on the other side. That one is quite old. The oldest grave was dug during the Republic of Texas. A few days back, I took the Despoina for a walk and we visited some of Austin's most important families: Bergstroms, Bartons, Zilkers... We didn't get over to the Littlefields. We didn't make it over to Mrs. Dickinson, either. You would think that the infant graves would be the saddest part of the place but, for me, it was the big plots bought so long ago with the intention of having a large family all resting together, but only having two or three graves within. I found that quite sad for reasons I can't entirely explain.

It's also had me thinking about my past again. I've done research into this before with some results. It's somewhat easy since my grandfather and great grandfather are buried about 50 yards from one another. As for my great great grandfather well, I've found out that he's buried in a cemetery outside of Gonzalez, Texas. The catalogs of headstones don't list him since maybe ten or so are still readable, but one of those readable ones is his daughter. I think I might drive down there one Saturday and see if I can find it. I don't see roads on the maps leading to it, but there's got to be a way there. I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get farther back than that. Born around 1850 in Georgia, I'm pretty sure he was born a slave. That would be hard to track down and I'm not sure I need to know all that.

I never get over the irony that I bear the name of a man who I never shared a drop of blood with. In fact, those who have been the most important people in my life have a tendency of not being consanguineous. Blood only means what you let it. And one day, when the Despoina is asking questions, I think I'll have to explain that to her. Maybe if will make the bond between us that much less in her eyes. Maybe it will make it that much more. Despite my own tendency to shy away from my own blood, I chose her. I choose to stay when at any moment I could drop it all and walk away. I choose to sleep less, labor more and watch over her, knowing that she may never know or understand what I have done. I choose to carry that weight, knowing that there is no knowing what may come of it all.

And maybe one day a child will point to a stone with my name on it and ask with curiosity to hear about their grandfather. Or great grandfather. Or great great grandfather.

All I can know for sure is that one day, I'll be joining all of those names and stones. It is the way of things. And I'm alright with that.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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I Think About the Dead A Lot More These Days | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Heavy. by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 12:55:27 AM EST

Chill out, snowflake.

Actually I like the look of that by Phage (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 02:36:42 AM EST
Will be nice in Spring.
Reminds me that I should try and find my Grandfathers marker, which is somewhere near where work on the banks of Thames. There's no grave as he was lost at sea.

Big Thoughts by johnny (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 06:58:17 AM EST
and it sounds like you're settling into parenthood quite on schedule, as you notice more and more doors opening up to more and more rooms each with more and more doors. . .

Fifteen years ago or so my brother Mike went to Finland and found the gravestone of our great grandfather. It was in a disused family plot, overgrown with weeds. So he cleaned it up and polished up the stone, which was marble and shined up to look quite new. Why Mike did this is kind of a mystery to me since he's not overly sentimental or, so far as I know, genealogically inclined. Anyway the name on the stone was Johan Reinhold Sundman, my name, and looking at a photo of it I felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone, the stone calling out to me memento mori. Mike even hired somebody to keep the gravesite cleaned up, although who knows if he's still doing it.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

Cemeteries are interesting. by vorheesleatherface (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 07:26:08 AM EST
There is something ethereal about a gathering of stone monuments marking the human remains in boxes below them. The places can be very pretty and were it not for peoples superstitions about death I'd think more people would have picnics in them just because they tend to be well maintained, interesting places to visit. They're also interesting because of the ideas behind them. I opt for cremation because it seems silly to me to spend money on a little piece of dirt and a stone with my name on it. I can spend money on better things. If I really wanted a stone monument of sorts for myself I'd get one. No reason to wait until you're dead if you want a statue or something.

As for the whole blood / name thing. There is a saying; "You don't get to choose your family but you can choose your friends." I'd think NOT guilting a kid with "we're family you HAVE TO stick close to us" would garner more respect.

Our city cemetery is darn cool by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 08:43:01 AM EST
it borders the U of R, is beautifully sited on textbook glacial terrain (sinkholes and rolling hills), has old headstones and crypts. and famous people. Lots of interesting rumors too.

We were walking there in the fall four years ago, and a front was coming through, making for all sorts of dramatic clouds, and leaves being whipped up into a whirlwind (I expected them to turn into bats, and have Damien appear).

(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 12:55:15 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

Do you have the sound of howling wolves by chuckles (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 05:50:46 PM EST
to go with that view?

"The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin [...] would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities"
My wife would kill for that view by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 08:46:09 PM EST
But one thing I don't think she would do for it is to share a house with her sister-in-law. Or, for that matter, with any of her siblings or even her parents.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
I Think About the Dead A Lot More These Days | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback