I have nothing profound to write about today so I’m going 8th grade school report style.
Growing up in Iowa, my mom would always take us for walks in a local cemetery that had a small pond with ducks and swans. We’d take bread or crackers and would always look forward to feeding the ducks and mimicking their squawks. I ended up taking my daughter there when she was small and she loved it equally. In fact, half the town kids have fond memories of going to that cemetery as a child, particularly on beautiful spring and fall days.
So it kind of became interesting to me how cemeteries got a bad rap. Granted, they’re featured in scary movies and videos like Thriller where tormented souls of the undead habitate to terrorize humans, but if you look into the history of cemeteries they were often used as places for the community to meet and come together for a variety of reasons.
I found myself gravitating to cemeteries more and more over the last several years and also make it a point to visit them when I’m traveling in various cities. I mean, what’s not to like? A quiet place away from the dizzying distractions of modern life, often with ornate monuments, fountains, flowers, greenery, and vegetation. It’s kind of a no-brainer if you’re looking for a place to reflect. And if you’re the philosophical kind, it definitely brings our mortality and the beauty of impermanence into perspective.
I did a guided tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah a couple years ago and was blown away by the beauty of the place. It was also featured in the movie, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil.
If you like the spookier side of cemeteries, the Gracie Watson grave is full of historical paranormal folklore. It’s been featured on those cable ghost shows. Check out a video about her.
My favorite cemetery is one I just stumbled onto when I lived in the San Francisco area. It’s an Italian cemetery in an area of South San Francisco called Colma. Colma is known for having more dead residents than alive. There are numerous cemeteries just within a couple square miles, including a Jewish cemetery adjacent to this one which has its own cultural incorporations into the monuments.
None of these pictures do the Italian Cemetery justice. There are multitudes of statues and mausoleums ubiquitous with beautiful angel sculptures.
The last picture is of the Woodlawn Cemetery that I lived near when I was residing in Nashville. There are many notable country music stars buried there, including George Jones and Johnny Paycheck. I took many a lunch time walk there and found it really relaxing.
So this concludes my 8th grade style report. If there’s a takeaway I’d like for you to have, it’s that cemeteries are not just for the dead. They can be a quiet place of solace for the living. Bye for now!