A neglected cemetery
There are people who are aficionados of cemeteries — those who love visiting serene gardens of stone.
Those people may love the quiet, sacred nature of a cemetery. These consecrated parks are really outdoor churches and cathedrals, some humble and small, some majestic in scope. The aficionado wants to be in quiet outdoors, away from traffic, where children don’t shout and play. They may be there to pray instead of at a church.
Let’s make some exceptions to this “aficionado” we’re talking about. There are those visitors who come just for information, not the ambiance of a cemetery. And there are those who visit for some kind of Halloween thrill. Calvary is closed after dark by the way. Then there are those who come for events — a special Mass or a dedication or, more commonly, a funeral. But they don’t visit on a regular basis.
Of course there are those still in mourning. They may visit regularly, even daily, because they intensely miss someone. And those who visit once a year, to pay homage to a lost one.
No… the aficionado visits because he or she simply appreciates cemeteries. On out-of-town trips the aficionado may visit the local cemeteries to compare or for the same feeling they get.
Cemeteries have different characters as well; each has a different mix of history, architecture and landscaping. You get a little different feeling walking through the older sections of Calvary, where the upright monuments are varied in size, stone, shape and height, than the feeling you’d get at a military cemetery and the ruthlessly similar dominoes of white stones.
A few weeks ago, I went to my aunt’s funeral at a small cemetery outside of Mankato. Now I have never been a true cemetery aficionado. But I’ve been to enough cemeteries to draw comparisons. It was at that funeral that I truly understood the value of a full-time caretaker — someone who battles the weeds, manicures the trees and hedges, sees to the repair of the stones, keeps the buildings and roadways in good repair. There’s a reason Calvary looks like a well-kept park.
It wasn’t that my aunt’s cemetery was neglected. It just missed the daily attention needed to keep things manicured. There were weeds and some overgrown areas. The trees had a shaggy, rough look to them. There were no road signs or architectural landmarks.
Now there are truly neglected cemeteries. These are forlorn places where the grass is never mowed and gravestones are sunken in. These can become targets for vandalism or even garbage dumping.
Many people don’t care where their final resting place will be. For those who do, Calvary offers the promise of perpetual care. Money is set aside every year in a fund to ensure that once all the sites are taken (far into the future), and no more can be sold, that the fund will provide for the care of Calvary far into the future.
If you’re shopping for a cemetery lot, or faced with the decision of where to place a family member, ask how your prospective cemetery will be kept in years to come. It does make a difference. I’d rather have my children and grandchildren get to visit my site in a pretty park. For me, that’s worth a little planning and expense.
— The Calvary Ghost Writer