“I was not. I have been, I am not. I am so grateful to have participated in life!”
A beloved cousin died yesterday and we, at a Johnson/Smith/Denoo family get together had a discussion about what we want inscribed on our gravesite. I don't intend to have a gravesite, but will have a marker placed on my mother's grave. I want it to be clear that when I die, my mind, body and emotions change into a different form and return to the atoms from which I evolved.
This is a nice memorial. Look at the polish on the arm rest and bench. It obviously is used. Sit there and have a virtual conversation with the man himself.
I am so grateful that I was born, was able to grow up, and that I was able to learn life-skills that improved my life and the life of people around me. I like your comment.
Just like my ancestor with the flying dirgible machine long before there was one, I will fall into obscurity as a myth of sorts. There need be no inscription if I am creamated. Maybe "just add water" on the urn. That would work.
I've pre-arranged cremation with a service that promises to pick up my body anywhere in the world and return the ashes to my family. (This could be a very good scam: how can you tell one set of ashes from another?)
The constant theme at memorial services is that the dead person will not be forgotten, but I believe we should all be forgotten. My message to my survivors is: don't waste time memorializing the dead, get on with your own life while you can.
I like the poem of Marina Tsvetaeva:
It may be that a better way
To conquer time and the world
Is to pass and not to leave a trace,
To pass, and not to leave a shadow on the wall.
Nice poem. Somehow it reminds me of this quote from Hunter S. Thompson:
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy shit…what a ride!”
Bertold, I like this. I am surely glad I did all the things I did and talked to all the people to whom I talked, and the challenges I overcame. Now I can just sit in my garden with a cup of coffee, a book, a computer on my lap, and the wildlife scurrying around my feet. No regrets, no missed opportunities, no place I want to go or person I want to meet. 'tis nice!
How about this by the author Jack London, who died at 40:
I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
I'll steal an idea from Mark Twain:
"My parents woke me up from a most pleasant nap! And without first asking me!"
Epicurean doctrine teaches that "death is nothing to us because when death is, we are not and when we are, death is not, ergo it doesn't concern neither the living nor the dead"
so the ancient Roman Epicureans had a peculiar way to mark their graves, with this inscription:
I did not exist
I do not exist
I do not care
You make valid points. When I was a little girl, my grandmother and we cousins trekked over the hill, across the creek on a rickety wooden bridge that no longer is there, and through the wheat fields up the hill to Goldenrod Cemetery and visited cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and family friends who were buried there. We each had a little basket to carry flowers in tin cans, water, and a lovely lunch. It was a great time, full of fun, sunshine, and adventure.
When I grew up and became the family genealogist, I trekked all over the northern and southern tiers of the U.S. seeking out the grave sites of ancestors. Sometimes a cousin joined me, sometimes my Dad, and sometimes I searched alone. I trekked over northern Europe and England and Ireland seeking the gravesites, records from libraries, community records and church documents. At one place, I found an article in the town hall minutes of an ancestor who was responsible for keeping the fallen trees from the dirt road in what is now Boston. Another time I found a burial site on the edge of a wheat field in a forest. The farmers carefully plowed around the site.
You are correct, of course. The land could be used to grow a few more shocks of wheat, however, it gave me a sense of being part of a very long line of ancestors. A rich heritage of hard working, farming people stretching across north Europe and the north and south of the U.S.
Part of that heritage was family violence. I was able to find evidence of it for 15 generations in one family line. That heritage is now broken. My children and their children and their children know the history. They know how to communicate effectively, solve problems and conflicts and life in relative peace. It is a great joy to listen to them express themselves when they have different opinions. They know it is acceptable to disagree and express themselves. They also know how to listen.
I am content! Even if my ancestors take up a lot of space in the planet Earth. They all have returned to dust or exist as ashes. All that is left of them are a few letters, pieces of cloth, jewelry, and tools; the rest are memories.
I like this Hiram! Each word is true.
I've always liked the Grateful Dead lyric:
Like the morning sun we come
And like the wind we go