Anyone with a good eye can find a zillion stories in cemeteries. That’s saying a great deal about a place where only mute stones stand there to speak to you. The dead can’t tell their tales and in most cases, there will be no one around to tell of a life and give those reposing there, a voice.
Go to a nearby cemetery, walk among the stones and read of the lives of people you will never meet. Or find the grave of a friend and continue your chat you started 37 years ago.
Edgar Lee Masters wrote a masterpiece of American fiction, “Spoon River Anthology.” Thornton Wilder wrote a sublime play, “Our Town.” Read the book, see the play and go stroll in a graveyard. Stop, read and listen. Someone is talking to you, crying, laughing, begging, or simply waiting…waiting for you to notice them.
I have read hundreds if not thousands of epitaphs for decades now. I never cease to be moved, alarmed, shocked or humbled by what I read. I’ve seen stone markers of suicides, 14 year-old murder victims, infants and people unknown or individuals who were quite famous.
I hope to share some of the more remarkable epitaphs I’ve collected in future postings.
Here’s one I recall from a solitary New England burying-ground. The dates carved were in the early 18th Century. It was the slate marker for twins:
“They tasted of life’s bitter cup.
Refused to drink the potion up.
Turned their little heads aside,
Disgusted with the taste, and died.”