Saturday, August 08, 2009
I went to the cemetery a couple of days ago with the family of the elderly man who died last Sunday. I didn't do the comittal but I was invited to join them. It was a beautiful day so folk lingered in conversation after my colleague from the Reform church was finished. A young great-grandson, a member of St. Paul's, let go with a big yawn which declared that he was bored with adult chitchat, so I invited him to look at gravestones with me.
We discovered that technology and money have allowed those left behind to become much more imaginative with what I would call grave art. On one stone there was a transport truck, no doubt the occupation of the deceased. On another there was a racing sulky pulled by a horse, and on yet another a guitar. There were several farms scenes etched on the markers and one person will be fishing in perpetuity. There were even photos of those who had died, recessed into the stone. I'm told that companies in the States offer small LCD screens in the markers with video of the dearly departed!
On modern markers angels and crosses, not to mention grisly death's heads, were in short supply. The sense is that today's gravestones are going to celebrate what the individual enjoyed in this life rather than a promise of the life to come.
I don't really have much of an opinion on the subject one way or another, although I can imagine some people's tastes running toward tacky without much encouragement. What I do know is that we all have to deal with our own mortality. We all die and we must all ask the questions about what is to come. Gravestone artwork of any style doesn't really help us address those concerns.
What do you think about what I have described -- comforting or kooky?