Thinking back, I wish I had a camera when I was younger.
I would have used it well; taking pictures of the many exquisite memorials that graced the dozens of cemeteries in my community.
Unfortunately though, I was a typical nine-year-old with an easily-influenced hyperactive imagination. I ended up fearing these places for the longest time, after hearing family stories about horrible ghosts, nasty criminals and those other … “things that go *BUMP* in the night.”
You know the ones I mean. The invisible ones that materialize out of thin air, after sunset, with four rows of razor-sharp teeth … lurking in the shadows of the graveyards, hungrily waiting for naughty little children who do not respect their elders … or eat all their vegetables at dinner time!
You remember them too, don’t you? What were they called, again?
Yes, I had a very strange childhood introduction to cemetery reverence and etiquette; but strange as it was, it was also some of the most entertaining memories of family gatherings. And what is even more strange: these stories continue. My siblings, cousins and I have re-told them to our children and now, to our grandchildren. The same stories, that thirty-forty years ago, we swore if we had any kids they would never hear a word of the ghosts, critters, criminals and those horrid things.
But our many cemeteries are gardens of stone when properly tended. Tranquil galleries displaying the craftsmanship of the artisans that carved them amidst Nature’s splendor. Every path that winds through these outdoor displays, opens a different chapter of Yesterday.
Alone, each piece is a testament of achievement and sacrifice, devotion and pride. And yet, together, they can be overwhelming, stopping Time and making History tangible when standing among the many regimented rows of Canada’s “fallen leaves.”
Time, vandalism, Nature and neglect takes away more than just the comforting memories of the living,
“fallen leaves” = slang for Canadian World War graves; referring to the Maple leaves on most of the Commonwealth War Graves, as shown in the featured image.
Lives are commemorated – deaths are recorded – families are reunited – memories are made tangible – and life is undisguised. This is a cemetery.
Communities accord respect, families bestow reverence, historians seek information and our heritage is thereby enriched.
Testimonies of devotion, pride and remembrance are carved in stone to pay warm tribute to accomplishments and to the life – not death – of a loved one.
A cemetery is a history of people – a perpetual record of yesterday and a sanctuary of peace and quiet today. A cemetery exists because every life is worth loving and remembering – always.