Sunday, October 26, 2008
Reflection among the Graves
I remember exploring an old country church cemetery in Hiram Township near my grandmother’s house, when I was a little girl. I was fascinated by the inscriptions on the headstones, and with the diligence of an archeologist, I examined the time worn markers, carefully deciphering the birth and death dates. I would work the equations in my head so that I could figure out the ages of the persons whose graves I tread upon. I would always feel so sad to discover the burial plot of a very young person or a child, imagining the grief of the family.
Even now, cemeteries still have an allure, and it is not unusual for me to stop and take a look around if I am driving by one, and I have a little time on my hands.
One of my favorites is the historic Lakeview Cemetery, which straddles the border of Cleveland and Cleveland Heights. It is the final resting place of many of the city’s most famous citizens, from President James Garfield and billionaire John D Rockefeller, to law man Elliot Ness and inventor Charles Brush.
In Lakeview Cemetery there are thousands of graves, each one representing the final page of a life story. Some graves are nearly anonymous, with a simple inscription of Mother, Father, or Infant. Others give the visitor a bit more; a name, birth and death dates, and occasionally, a verse from the Bible. My favorites are the elaborately carved monuments. Stained by acid rains and the polluted atmosphere of a city where fortunes were accrued in the steel mills and factories, figures of angels, saints and the deceased stare eternally at the landscape.
I can walk for miles here along the roads and pathways. Wandering between the headstones, I become cognizant of my own time on earth, and begin to contemplate the impact I’ve made so far.