This afternoon I went on one of my famous walks, but with a difference. I got daring and decided to get to the cemetery if I had to crawl there on hands and knees. To reach the cemetery, I have to allow for more walking time, which means a little more than my half an hour. My camera has been kept to a minimum with the eternal photos of ducks, swans, horses and chickens, and I wanted to see something more, and I did it. I walked past the horses (took a few photos) and found that the rest was downhill and just around the next bend were the cemetery gates.
The nice thing about cemeteries is that there are places to sit everywhere, and are very rarely fully occupied. Who wants to lay down on a cemetery bench? No-one really, but golden oldies like me with a cane as accompaniment treasure every opportunity to sit down and contemplate who is new at the cemetery. I have not been there for some time, so had some catching up to do on the grave stones, but there is still plenty of room.
I noticed that in one corner of the graveyard there was work going on, but not for new graves, the gardeners were at work planting new flower beds. They do not do it with a shovel or rake, they had a small bulldozer. So there was I was contemplating the flower bed in the photo, and a gardener walked past. We greeted each other and he said “The flowers are nice, I planted the flowerbed myself this week”. Of course I congratulated him to the excellent choice of flowers, but who were they for – there were no big graves near. It was when I uploaded the photo I realised that the background was a composition of small regular sized square stones with a name and dates of birth and death. They were the graves for the cremated, the cheaper solution, just a simple stone saying “I was here”. On the other side of the cemetery there were the larger stones, with their own flowerbeds, planted by the gardener who had been engaged to tend to the grave regularly and paid for the job by the families concerned.
Even in the after world there seems to be a sort of hirarchy. When you walk through the cemetery you admire the well-kept graves with their special flower arrangements, one better than the other. In Spring the pansies arrive, later a rose tree might be planted, and towards Autumn the heather is planted. You are not even allowed to put flowers on the stones for the cremated, although the name is quite clearly engraved on the stone. It is not wished for by the authorities that are in charge of the cemetery, they have flower beds planted here and there for the cremated. Sometimes you might see a vase with a lone flower in it balancing on a stone, and often there are grave lamps here and there.
Funny how the well known prominent people of the local town, mostly lawyer families, or doctor families, have the biggest and most ornate graves, perhaps with a sculpture commissioned by a local artist. They are the so-called bought graves. The land for the grave has been bought by the family and the grave remains for the descendents in the family. Otherwise it is custom in our Kanton in Switzerland that you only are allowed to remain for 30-40 years (not sure of the exact amount). The family if then informed that the grave will be emptied and whether they would like to have any parts of the memorial to keep for themselves.
I noticed a golden oldie lady examining the names on the cremated section of the cemetery. I think she was just curious. We greeted each other when our paths crossed. I was really only at the cemetery for some photos. One day my final resting place will also be here, was a passing thought I had. The cherry blossom were flowering and the forsythia.
I decided it was time to go home and walked slowly home passed the famous and the prominence who have the best places at the entrance, nicely spaced out to allow room for the trees and flowers in between.
I crossed the main road and arrived at the local station where they have a bench. My benches are all placed at strategic places on the way home to minimalise my walking time. Actually I was feeling good, no stress, just taking it easy.