Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Autumn in Mount Auburn Cemetery
Last weekend, the fall color show had not yet peaked in Mount Auburn. There's still time to take a walk in the leaves and enjoy the beauty of one of the world's finest 19th-century cemeteries.
We were "members" of Mt. Auburn for awhile, and we may join again when/if our finances recover, but it seemed odd to belong to a cemetery while we are still pretty good at breathing.
On our walks there, we sometimes try to imagine what sort of elaborate, overwrought monument we'd have chosen for ourselves as wealthy Victorians. If I were ever to start my own business, I'd manufacture reproductions of Victorian tombstones in some sort of impervious, stone-like material, so people can have graves with character and artistry again. Mourning ladies, benevolent angels, baskets of wheat sheaves, loyal dogs, lambs, obelisks, books on pedestals, draped urns — all a thousand times more eloquent than any modern slab of granite.
Then there's my brother's plan. He wants to build a mausoleum, with lifelike statues of him, our sister, and me sitting inside. A recording of us yelling at each other would play 24 hours a day. I think it's a great idea: it celebrates one of our top skills, and no passerby could possibly feel sorry for us.
On this walk, my husband asked if I would mind if we had a monument in Mt. Auburn someday, a place where our names would be carved. And that sounded good to me. (A nice plot costs well into six figures, so this is highly speculative.) This is a change. Previously, we'd both said we want no marker, just cremation and ashes tossed in the wind. I guess our plans are evolving. We don't have children, so it's likely no one else would visit us, but if he wants his name on a stone, it's certainly going to be there.
We passed a new, curb-style stone belonging to a Boomer: "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." We puzzled over another one: "Yellow Always Wins." I wondered if mine should say: "She was passionate about trying to discover her passion." Then I realized I'm not even passionate about that, and got really depressed. My husband recalled Mel Blanc's epitaph — "That's All, Folks!" — which we saw years ago in Hollywood. Short and snappy. I suppose ours could be equally truthful and succinct: "Too Many Burritos."