As I took photos of interesting markers and monuments, I couldn't help contrasting old cemeteries like St. John (Plaquemine, Louisiana) with the new modern cemeteries.
In old cemeteries, you or your family could choose a unique marker that seemed appropriate for the very unique you. Your financial condition would have determined whether your marker was modest or elaborate; but either way, you had the option of having a unique marker.
In modern cemeteries there is no option for uniqueness. All markers are flat plaques at ground level. They all look alike. Instead of having your uniqueness honored, you become indistinguishable in a sea of departed humanity.
There's something cozy about an old cemetery. Even if none of the names on the markers are familiar to me, I feel like I'm visiting real individuals. But the coziness is lost in the collectivism of a modern cemetery.
Oh well, there's no point in lamenting modern cemeteries. We'll all end up in one unless you're fortunate enough to have a family plot with empty space in an old cemetery. But sometimes there's no denying that old ways are best.
I think I was ten years old before I realized that my grandfather wasn't Babe Ruth. That was because my Cajun grandmother always said that my grandfather was buried at the ballpark. She really didn't speak of him much, so for all I knew.... he must have been a big-shot ball player to be buried at the ballpark.... and who bigger than Babe Ruth?
But I was about ten when I threw my uncles into fits of laughter when I asked how come none of them played major league ball like grandpa. That's when I learned that Maw Maw referred to Grace Memorial Park as "the ballpark" because it was full of flat bronze markers instead of the usual above-ground tombs prevalent to South Louisiana.
But ballparks don't seem near as barren and sterile as these newfangled cemeteries dotted with bronze bases. So devoid of life. Gardens of memory? Hardly. And perpetual care? They've removed that phrase from their signs and pamphlets. I've been plotting, scheming, and flat-out lying about my age for a long time now, but all for naught. It doesn't look like I'm going to make it out of this world alive. And yet, I don't want my aftercare to be a burden on future generations (and I don't have anyone to burden directly, anyway), so I've been looking at alternatives.
The whole "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" phrase keeps popping up when contemplating mortality. And I've decided that "creation to cremation" might be the best route for me. And it doesn't make any sense to bury my cremains like my dad wants done when he passes. "But I've already bought the plot" is his answer to my perplexity. And yet the ballpark cemetery is charging him an additional $400 for the space under the marker, which they don't consider a part of the regular plot. What???!!!
But I digress.... which is why I haven't traveled as much as I'd like to. My will states that my siblings can divvy my cremains up as they wish. Prop me on the mantle in a cookie jar, compost me under a magnolia tree or in a flowerbed, scatter me to the winds, toss me into the Mighty Mississippi, or mail me to China. I've always wanted to see the Great Wall.
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