Dad’s Passing

Peonies from the yard, Memorial Day 2013

My dad died back in March.  Of course I miss him.

The prospect of getting back to my blog about how much I love graveyards gave me the worst case of writers’ block I’ve ever had. I couldn’t decide what to say, how much to say. For a while, I wondered if I could keep the blog going at all. 

But after all these months I’m finally able to walk into a cemetery and feel that quiet, timeless comfort again. 

My grandfather chose this site. He always said we could throw a rock at his grave as we drove by.

 My sisters and I haven’t marked his grave yet. I definitely have a new appreciation for the complexities of choosing tombstones.

The cemetery where he’s buried only allows stamped bronze markers, the kind mounted flush to the ground, but I’m determined to give taphophiles like me a better clue about how my dad lived his life than the typical phrase, “loving father and husband” provides.  But how do you sum up a life in twenty words or less?

Here’s the epitaph I’ve come up with that seems to suit him best so far…

William Frederick Moore

May 9, 1932 – March 28, 2013

He loved his family, the great outdoors, and the two-step.

Dad caught this whopper at Table Rock Lake – a nineteen pounder!

I love you, Dad.

Mourners and Guardians

Catherine Tracy clings to her only daughter Kate, who died in 1854 at the age of seventeen.

The neglected lichen-covered monument still vividly evokes a mother’s grief even 150 years later. I imagine Catherine coming to stand at the grave when the statue was new, then ten years later and twenty-five. The stone’s forever. I wonder how her feelings about it changed.

Protestant Cemetery, Rome, Italy

Sculptures always get my camera clicking when I explore a graveyard. Some are just gorgeous. Others tug at my heart stings or get me thinking. There are the ones like Kate Tracy’s that are obviously there for the particular benefit of her grieving family.

But I also see many less specific, but no less touching guardians and traditional icons.

And then there are the in-your-face, ostentatious monuments. The only thing they say about the deceased is, I WAS RICH! I like those too.

Ordinary stones are great. Heck, I can get excited just reading the names and dates – Did they lose all of their kids in the flu epidemic? – She died in childbirth. He never remarried? – She may have been poor, but somebody sure loved her….

But sculptures can say as much as epitaphs. Maybe not what the mourners intended. Maybe much more. Take a look at nine-year-old Ryan Allen Scott Vanden Broeder’s guardian. This one astounds me. I know there’s a story here, but no amount of googling revealed it. What do you think?