Most people visit a cemetery once or twice a year, and then only to pause for a few moments at a specific grave site. But I love the chance to wander about in a cemetery because I find there are so many interesting things to see.
You always can tell the new portion of a cemetery at a glance because what is written on monuments is brief and to the point.I like to walk into the older sections, where graves have grown a grassy cover and have become more comfortable with their surroundings. Here you will see fancy standing stones and stones sculptured with hearts, ferns, doves and angels. Here, too, you will discover some very interesting epitaphs, carefully worded to honor a loved one.
Sad, but true, they don't write epitaphs like they used to. Today's inscriptions are rarely as flowery and poetic, and this makes it difficult for the passer-by to gain an insight into the feelings that flowed between the bereaved and the departed one.
Older epitaphs are simple but succinct, such as this found in the Ephraim cemetery in Sanpete County:
A little time on earth he spent
Til God for him His angel sent
And others make you look over your shoulder if you find yourself dawdling along:
He faltered by the wayside
And the angels took him
Epitaphs placed on the graves of babies are always poignant, such as:
This is a little grave, but oh have care, for world wide hopes are buried there
Another reflects an aching heart:
How much of light
How much of joy
is buried with a
Punctuation on older stones seems to be rare, but even beyond that, sometimes when space ran out on slender obelisks the engraver just skipped to the following line with word divisions that make the reader do a double take, such as this one:
Dearest loved one
es we have laid
Thee in the peace
ful graves embr
ace but thy memo
ry shall be cher
ished till we see
Thy heavenly face
This one, too, strains the readers' understanding:
Again we ho
Pe to meet th
Ee when the
Day of life is
Fled and in he
Aven with joy
To greet thee
Where no far
Many tributes found in a cemetery are those inscriptions written to a mother, such as:
Dearest Mother thou has left us
Here thy loss we deeply feel
But tis God that hath bereft us
He will all our sorrows heal
One which left me with one foot literally in the air said:
Dont step on a
Heroine a kind and
True to her cove
Nant her God her
Husband and all
Who knew her
During my mother's last illness, her doctors performed many tests to determine what caused her trouble. During this time, my sister took our mother home to care for her, and because corn chowder had been a favorite of my mother, my sister made some, thinking to tempt her appetite. When my mother grew sicker, she said in dismay, "I wonder if it was the chowder." An offhand comment, but one that caused my sister a great deal of concern.
When my mother passed away shortly thereafter an autopsy showed that she had a severe stomach disorder which would have caused her misery no matter what she may have eaten.
Still, my sister grieved about the remark made about the corn chowder, so much so that when it came time to choose the wording on my mother's headstone, my sister said wistfully, "Could we add the words, `It wasn't the corn chowder?' "
My sister and I gave the matter thought, but decided against it rather than offend the other six children in the family.
Over the years, though, my sister and I have looked at each other many times and smiled and said, "We should have done it, we should have said something about the corn chowder on Mother's headstone."
If we had, the inscription undoubtedly would have puzzled cemetery browsers like me, yet in my heart I feel sure that wherever it is that my mother waits for us to join her she would have known - and she would have laughed.