Sunday, November 08, 2009

TBWCYL Day 311 - Grave Side Service

I don't often find myself standing in a cemetery on a Saturday morning but today was out of the ordinary. Sometimes these tasks are stupid, sometimes funny, and occasionally they are serious and that is where today's falls.

I got up early yesterday morning and headed to the store to buy flowers...to put on the grave of a person I don't know. I had found a local cemetery in the area that I never knew was there. It sits on the grounds of a small church and is the size of a large back yard. It is so unimpressive in stature that I drove past it twice before finding it.

It was a saddening experience in a way. Not knowing anyone there it still made me uneasy to be on the grounds. I grabbed my small bouquet of yellow flowers and walked to the grave least tended to and started to feel like this was exactly the grave I was meant to see. Inside a hoop of rusted metal sat a single headstone. It was covered in leaves and weeds were sprouting out of the ground all around it. This cemetery wasn't a regal place, mostly dirt covering the ground, so the little tufts of green were easily visible.

I began to read the inscription on the stone and my body started to warm. Whoever this person was, they had a sense of humor about them. As I read the inscription,(see below) I couldn't help but think that the person who wrote it wanted to make sure their family didn't mourn them; wanted them to know it was OK to live life.



In case it can't be read:
LET NO TEAR ADORN YOUR CHEEK.
NO HEARTACHE FILL YOUR BREAST,
AS YOU STAND HERE IN THIS QUIET PLACE
WHERE I NOW LAY AT REST.
GO BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE
BEFORE MY GRAVE YOU CAME TO VIEW
REMEMBER, THIS WAS YOUR WORLD,
I WAS JUST PASSING THROUGH.
R. L. A.

I was surprised at how fitting this was to find while visiting a person I didn't know for a task from a book that they had never read.

I wandered around a little and when walking back I found I had been looking at the back of the grave stone. While all other stones had been facing the same direction, R. L. A. had been buried the opposite or the stone had been put in backwards, I don't know which.

R. L. A. was actually Robert Leslie Allen of the U.S. Navy. Born 1941 and died 1988. Before moving the flowers to the right side of his grave, I used the left over cellophane wrapper to scrape the moss off of his headstone and knock off the bird droppings. I whispered thanks for the words of wisdom and the service to our country and then got in my truck and left.

That is all,

Newt

8 Ripples in the pond:

Maryx said...

Respect. Wow. What an interesting task.

Erin said...

The Book makes me roll my eyes, and then it throws in days like this one. Nice to have some quiet moments of reflection.

Lola Lakely said...

This is quite beautiful Trinity. The book really does give you tasks from drastically different sides of the spectrum, doesn't it. Very cool thing to do, I think.

Soda and Candy said...

Wow, this kind of makes me want to do that same thing (even though I don't really believe in any kind of life after death). I kind of like cemeteries, they're so peaceful and emotionally stirring.

Trinity said...

The whole experience was uplifting in a way. It made me wish I could go visit my grandmother's grave but it is pretty far away.

S&C - I am sort of with you on the whole death thing. I am not sure about what is out there at the end so I don't konw what to expect and I am not sure if burying a shell has any meaning.

Simon said...

An interesting task and an interesting epitaph. All the more curious is that only a few weeks ago I was taking a photograph of a reversed (west-facing) gravestone myself, though one with a rather curious story associated with it.

While east-facing gravestones are more of a tradition than a strict rule, to have one standing out in this way makes one wonder what the reason was in this case.

Incidentally, you aren’t the only one to photograph his gravestone, though the other one I found shows the opposite side.

Trinity said...

Wow Simon. That is amazing that someone else has visited that same stone and put it online. Crazy world.

Carrie said...

This is touching. Beautiful. Endearing. A bit nostalgic.

It's brightened up my day considerably. Thanks for that. ;)