In our wanderings though the Irish countryside we visited a lot of old cemeteries. Places where tombstones started in the 1700’s and went through to modern day. At all of these, and I mean every single one we went to, there were beautiful fresh flowers on many – if not most – of the graves. At the last one we visited while we were looking for an old monastic tower and cross, we met Mary. She didn’t know where the ruins were, but she showed us her parent’s grave, nodded to her Uncle’s plot, and pointed to her husband’s headstone. All together. In one flower filled cemetery. As we spoke I told her how different it was where I was from. How Grandma wanted to be one place and mom in another and I want to be all over. There will be no one close enough to tend a grave, perhaps not even visit. Certainly no one to water the flowers.
She just looked at me and simply said, “Sad.”
I suppose, in a way, she’s right. Being here, the place of some of my ancestors, reminds me of the homeland I have never known. I am not alone in this, of course, so many of us are from all over the map – or in my case mostly northern Europe. But the idea of being from somewhere… to know that place from generations past… to feel the changes and the continuity… It sounds lovely. Unattainable, but lovely.
Mary was right. But, so are we. I can’t believe it matters were our remains end up, except to those left behind. If my boys want me on a mountain, or in the sea, or under a tree so be it. I will love them from where I am and love them more if they follow their own needs and desires – not my selfish ones – of where what is left of my physical body is placed. Their choice, not mine. The way it should be. And it’s not me, anyway, just a vessel from one birth to the next. As it should be.