Monday, March 09, 2015

The Dead and Beautiful Rest: Platypus Travels Part LVIII

 If there is fear in a handful of dust, then there is truth in tombstones.  Dust and tombstones are both considered unsightly in modern America.  In California, that most cosmetic state, the Lawn Cemetery is king, with its rows of unobtrusive, ground level stones hiding the unpleasant reality of Man's mortality from all but the most curious of eyes.  But the stones are still there, and with them the truth that they tell.

When I was a child, adults always spoke to me as if certain things were my right by simple virtue of being human.  They didn't say "if you get married," they said "when."  They didn't say "if you have children," they said "when."  We were to "live our dreams" and remember that  we could "do anything we wanted" because we were "special."  To cap it all off, it was an unquestioned assumption that we'd have some seventy to eighty years to do it all in.  Tombstones tell a different story.

This is the stone of Annie J. Hinman, wife of R.N. Griffing.  She died March 15, 1875, aged twenty years.  She isn't buried under her husband's name, and I could find no trace of his grave in the cemetery.  I suspect that this is or was going to be her parents' plot.  Did she die in childbirth?  Was she a victim of Consumption?  How long was she married to R.N. Griffing?  Did he remarry?  Did he move away?  What promises were made to Annie when she was a little girl?  What did the adults tell her she could expect from life?  Man, that is born of a woman, hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery.  He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.  We do know what they said when she was gone for they wrote it on her tombstone: Let the Dead and Beautiful Rest.

No comments: