As I mentioned in my last post, one of my good friends lives next to/in a Jewish cemetery. In truth, it is not as creepy as is sounds. It was rather quiet there, and almost peaceful. You focus more on the junipers, the flowers, the brick wall dividing the cemetery from the country club. You forget about what's in the ground and more about what's on the stones themselves--the names of people, the names and lives of those who passed centuries before. (The oldest stones in the cemetery are illegible for two reasons; first, they are written in Hebrew, and, second, the limestone has been rubbed smooth, rendering any language unreadable.)
When I asked my friend if there were any gravestones that resonated with him more than others, he brought me to a tall pillar, one several feet high. The resting places of family members were arranged around the monument, which is what my friend drew my attention to.
"Wow. This girl was only fifteen," I said. "And this one only seven! And they died in Denver on the way out west ... wow. Can you imagine, in the mid-1800s, having to transport the bodies all the way back here? Without any way to preserve the body? Wow. It reminds me of As I Lay Dying."
As we continued touring the cemetery, my friend pointed out other various elements.
"This one here," he said, as he brought me to another monument, "is also Indiana limestone. But if you look closely, you can see all the little fossils and sea shells and such from eons ago."
"And over here," he continued, "is where the parents, brother, and brother's wife of Jack Weil are interred. Jack Weil founded Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver. He was born in Evansville in 1901 and he was the CEO of his company until 2008. He was 107 when he died. Oldest CEO in the world. Anyway, he designed western wear for Clark Gable, and for Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain."
The history of this person, this person's family, is why I found the cemetery interesting and reflective. These gravestones, all of them, especially the older ones, are a community of ancestors. These people were real; they ate, drank, laughed, cried, hugged, loved. They had hardships I will never know, lives to which I cannot relate. It's humbling, given that the only thing I can share with those lost to the ages is the cemetery itself--the grass, the trees, the flowers, the sunset.