Thursday, May 8, 2008

Not for the Faint of Heart



If you're even going to love me, love me now, while I can know.
All the sweet and tender feelings which from real affection flow.
Love me now, while I am living; do not wait till I am gone.
And then chisel it in marble - warm love words on ice-cold stone.
If you've dear sweet thoughts about me, why not whisper them to me ?
Don't you know t’would make me happy and as glad as I could be ?
If you wait till I am sleeping, ne'er to waken here again,
There'll be walls of earth between us and I couldn't hear you then.
If you knew someone was thirsting for a drop of water sweet
Would you be slow to bring it ? Would you step with laggard feet ?
There are tender hearts all around us who are thirsting for our love;
Why withhold from them what nature makes them crave all else above ?
I won't need your kind caresses when the mass grows o'er my face;
I won't crave your love or kisses in my last low resting place.
So, then, if you love me any, if it's but a little bit,
Let me know it now while living; I can own and treasure it.

- anonymous

Sigh. Isn't that lovely? I guess it's not unusual that the words put me in mind of old cemeteries and headstones, but they did.

Too maudlin? LOL. Well one thing led to another, as they tend to do, and it got me thinking. One thing I always enjoyed doing as a little girl was going to tend the graves with my mom and Grandma. We usually went a couple of times a year, but I remember how cool and quiet it was on hot summer days. It's an old cemetery, full of history and old trees. From my uncle's gravestone, my mother would point to my great grandparents--the McCaffreys--near the road. Then farther back, the Hogans. She would always point out how Father O'Rorke, who was known to be a heavy drinker, had buried Aunt Minnie in the wrong plot, thus the reason she was so far away from the rest of the McCaffreys and Hogans. It's possible my love for history began on those summer afternoons; if not then it was certainly nurtured, surrounded by family history as I was. I know it sounds strange to anyone who gets the willies near a graveyard, (and certainly you won't catch me in one after dark!) but I felt safe, serene and peaceful as I walked the stone paths leading to elaborate monuments, and my favorite, a praying angel with a rosary dangling from her fingers.

The point is I've never been creeped out by cemeteries (at least not the old, historic ones. I'm not too crazy about the newer kind, with row after row of markers that look the same. Now that's creepy!). I loved to browse through them, reading headstones. (Now that the weather is nicer I may head off to take some pictures and do a blog on my family history.) Some of my best ideas, character names, (and obviously, my pen name) came from those visits.

Last year, while placing flowers at my grandmother's grave, my sons and I noticed another grave nearby, half sunken into the ground and overgrown with weeds and grass. When we cleaned up around it, we were able to see it was the resting place of a WWI soldier. A quick glance around the area proved the last of those nearby who shared his last name had died in 1979, so we "adopted" the grave and put a flag on his stone for Memorial Day (the veterans usually take care of their own--even the Civil War heroes buried there get flags, I suspect they just couldn't see this gentleman's marker.)

Anyway, my apologies if this is all too gloomy for you, LOL, but with Memorial Day coming soon and grey, gloomy skies outside--then that poem that I found on another website this morning--it just got me thinking.

BTW that's the cemetery -- Paddy Hill as it was once called, Mother of Sorrows as it's known today-- where my mother's family is buried. This shot is from the 1930s but it hasn't changed much. The church you see there is no longer the church-- a newer one was built some years ago and is located around back. For years the old church was used as a library. I believe it's now a community eduction center of some sort. But it's rumored to be haunted.

I'll end this with a question. Are you, as a writer, inspired by walking through cemeteries? Or do you avoid them altogether?

3 comments:

Susan Macatee said...

I love the cemetery where my father and brother are buried. It's so tranquil. I plan to visit them on Memorial Day to leave flowers and flags. They both served in the Navy.

I also love to visit those older cemeteries where Civil War soldiers are buried and read the dates on the headstones.

Sarita Leone said...

What a wonderful post! I love the picture and the poem. Me? I have never minded a cemetery. So many stories just waiting to be discovered.

We have also adopted a gentleman, Mr. Fitz, who rests near some relatives. He looked like he needed some attention, so when we give our loved ones' graves a clean up we do his, too. And we bring Mr. Fitz flowers. Why not? :)

Paty Jager said...

I love old cemeteries! What a great place to find character names and wonder about the lives and make up stories that may become a book.

Great Blog, Nic!