While we stroll through historic cemeteries, looking for lost treasures of symbols and stones, we often forget to spend a lot of time in the more modern sections of these amazing places.
At Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, NC I had the pleasure of spotting a beautiful memorial. Do you see the marker in the photo? It's hardly noticeable. But look at everything else! Besides the inviting chair, if you could zoom in you'd see a stone that says, "mama's garden;" you can see bird feeders, flowers, and a little bird bath with 2 rubber duckies. It's an amazing celebration of life and a beautiful place to sit, reflect, and most importantly, remember. What is a cemetery if not a place for these types of activities?
If we look to the beginnings of Rural/Garden Cemeteries, we see a shift in how we as citizens of the world began to view death. Gone were the days of fearing our demise, in the 1860s and beyond we began to romanticize death! As that shifted, we began to celebrate life! Now, in the modern era, many cemetery observers admire the funeral goods left behind. Often, at a child's grave you'll see their favorite toy car or GI Joe man. At Mama's Garden, we probably see the things that Mama, in this case, Lena Dee Armstrong Howerton, cherished. These funeral goods give us a sneak peak into not the death and sadness of the family, but of the life of Ms Howerton. It gives the family peace of mind that the Ms Howerton's favorites of life surround her... and when they come to remember and reflect, they are surrounded by the beauty that surrounded their loved one.
So remember to visit the newer sections of cemeteries. Life is around every corner!