My First Funeral

 I’ve been obsessed with cemeteries since I organized

my first funeral.Pregnant guppy

When I was a kid, one of several fishes my sisters and I kept in a freshwater aquarium died.  Since we didn’t care about him much, he didn’t really even have a name. Until we found him belly-up. Then he had to have a name – for the TOMBSTONE.

Deciding on Flashy, we made a sparkly, little casket out of aluminum foil lined with a folded square of soft, pink toilet paper. With me leading the way, I was the oldest, we carried his body slowly, in procession through the living room, the kitchen, out the back door.

At the graveside, we sang swing low, sweet chaaar-ri-ah-aht!  Words were said – sad, respectful ones about Flashy’s tragically short life.

We discussed the six-feet-under concept, but our mother convinced us — I believe her exact words were, “No, you will NOT dig a six foot hole by the back patio!”  — that six inches would be more than enough for a creature Flashy’s size.

We buried him under the Skunk bush. That was our nickname for a rare and gorgeous species of Azalea that blooms a brilliant orange, but has the unfortunately pungent scent of skunk.English: Azalea 'Hinodegiri' in full flower in...

Flashy wouldn’t mind the smell. We marked his final resting place with a Popsicle-stick-cross beautified with crayon.  There may have been tears, but I don’t think so. The feeling I remember most about the whole affair is glee.

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Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN

Dark Angel

Lakewood Cemetery on a cold, windy day, spitting rain. Despite everything, heavenly!

Girl under glass

Have you ever been here? This is one of those cemeteries so packed with beauties that even with a full-color, self-guided tour brochure there’s no way to see everything in one visit.

Madonna and Child

The staff in the reception building (with restrooms!), was incredibly helpful and organized. They printed out section maps so I could find specific grave sites.  Awesome!

Her face

The blustery weather definitely set a melancholy tone for the day, so next time I visit, I’ll make it in the summer and I’ll bring a picnic lunch. Trees and tombstones

Children and Angels in Bellefontaine, Florissant, Missouri

Bellefontaine Cemetery is just north of St. Louis in Florissant. Missouri and totally worth a side trip if you’re headed that way.

Bellfontaine, Florissant, MO (21)

Bellfontaine, Florissant, MO (22)

In a previous post, I focused on statues of women in mourning at Bellefontaine. Just gorgeous.

Bellfontaine, Florissant, MO (24)

Bellfontaine, Florissant, MO (25)

Can you imagine visiting these two memorials when they were new and even more lifelike?  I’ll come back to Bellefontaine. There are some spectacular buildings here too.

Bellfontaine, Florissant, MO (27)

Rural Missouri Cemetery Gateways

These big welcoming gateways are a familiar sight in rural Midwest.

These big welcoming gateways are a familiar sight in the rural Midwest.

 

Cemeteries plopped right down on the side of the road or in the middle of a cow pasture need eye-catching signs to attract visitors.

This is a pretty one near Rolla, Missouri

This is a pretty one near Rolla, Missouri

I wonder if there’s a cemetery gateway company that does all of these. Or used to anyway. I’ve never seen one that looked brand new.

Perrin Cemetery, Missouri

Perrin Cemetery, Missouri

I don’t think they’re just a Missouri thing. Has anybody seen them in other parts of the country?

Fairview Cemetery near St. Joseph, Missouri

Fairview Cemetery near St. Joseph, Missouri

 

 

 

Goat Bluff Cemetery, Hot Springs, Arkansas

The ride down a long, rough gravel road is worth it to get to this one.

The drive down a long, rough gravel road was worth it to get to this one.

I featured this little cemetery near Hot Springs, Arkansas last month just because I loved the name.

Hand-piled rock wall.

Hand-piled rock wall.

I didn’t find any clues there as to how it got its name, but I did find grave sites that were just as intriguing.

Gone but definitely not forgotten.

The graves at Goat Bluff said as much about the community of people left behind as they did about those they memorialize.

Grave sites like this speak volumes.

Can’t you just imagine the funeral services held in this shelter?

I think it still gets used, don't you?

I think it still gets used, don’t you?

Funeral service shelter