Thursday, 27 August 2009

You can find lives past and lives future in a cemetery

but lives present visit only briefly, anxiously, guiltily. We're alive. You're not.
Kathleen's funeral, held yesterday, was brief and private. It reflected her belief "in God but not religion" and the importance of her neighbours.
It was held in the smallest chapel in the Centennial Park complex up on the hill not far from here. There is a big window, reaching to the sky. The weather was wild and windy. You can look out and see an inner, private garden. It is, supposedly, restful and peaceful but I do not much like Centennial Park.
There are thousands of rose bushes and, beneath them, there are tiny plaques...spaces one can rent for a while. There are no headstones, no information apart from names and dates, no messages, no real sense of history. Kathleen detested it. She is headed for the hills and life. She will have trees planted in her memory. They will, like the trees planted for my mother and Margaret, nestle anonymously with the other trees. They will be life past and life future - but not life present.
Kathleen's sister, 94, took the proceedings with the outward calm of the very old. Her inner feelings only given away by the strength of her grip as I greeted her and, eventually, left her.
I rode my tricycle through the winding road of the Garden of Remembrance, past the workers with their yellow safety jackets, past the lives past and the lives future. I watched the lives present leaving as they waited to turn into the traffic.
As I turned onto the footpath alongside the main road I thought of my sister's words when, as a four year old, she tried to describe how to find something, "You go down the hill, past where the dead people live."
It might have been true of an old style cemetery with headstones and history. It is not true of that place. I am glad Kathleen is going into the hills. It is better to live as a tree than a plaque beneath a rose bush.


Agnieszkas Shoes said...

I was at a funeral on Monday. They're strange events, aren't they? It seemed stranger for not having a viewing of the body. Somehow it's easier to mark the transition in your hed when you can see from the body that the person has left.

Rachel Fenton said...

I think coffins are hideous...who designed them to be that shape? They are so mean and frugal...even in death, space comes at a premium. I like trees for remembrance.

catdownunder said...

Funerals are strange rites. In mediaeval times they had communal coffins for the poor. They would be used over and over again. I think I prefer trees.