Look On My Hits, Ye Mighty, and Despair

My parents, maternal grandparents, and a cousin of my generation who died when we were 13 are buried in a family plot in Nashville’s Woodlawn Cemetery. When my grandparents bought the plot, one of the things my grandfather liked about the cemetery was that all the graves were marked with simple, ground-level stone or bronze markers. My grandfather had grown up poor before finding a career with the Nashville Fire Department, and according to my mother, it had always bugged him that in a lot of cemeteries, rich folks had elaborate tombstones, while the poor might only have a headstone that would weather away quite quickly. He liked Woodlawn because he thought the simple markers were appropriate for the equality of death.

I thought of that when my folks were buried as well. It seemed fitting to me — they were humble people (probably more so than they should have been), and figured a minimum of fuss was more than sufficient. They were buried in a single, wide grave with a double marker in bronze, part of the regularity of a landscape that generally was only broken by the occasional sculpture or fountain one finds at these memorial parks.

Yesterday, an old friend whose father is also interred at Woodlawn visited her dad’s grave, and found that country star George Jones is now buried about fifteen feet away. It would appear that the standard of uniformity has changed.

George Jones gravesiteI’m not outraged by this — Woodlawn is a business, and can make its rules as it chooses. As my friend noted with her standard grace and good humor, she sees it as an honor for Mr. Jones to have buried so near her father. Still, I think of my grandfather and my parents, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s wrong of me to hope that I can’t see Mr. Jones’s grave from my family plot.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Faith, Family, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Look On My Hits, Ye Mighty, and Despair

  1. Ah, well. After all those years of being larger than life, the Possum’s now larger than death. You know, I can’t begrudge him the,um, glory. If that’s what it is. The man could sing.

  2. profmondo says:

    Also, I have to admit that I now imagine the groundskeepers doing a memorial lap of George’s grave on their riding mowers before each day’s work.

  3. The Ancient says:

    When my mother died, while I was still quite young, my father picked out a spot in close proximity to the monumental tomb of someone limitlessly famous. On the increasingly rare occasions when I visit, I’ve come to find it oddly comforting. A solidarity in death for a couple of people who died too soon.

  4. Bill says:

    We are born as unique individuals and, as such, should have unique markers in our deaths. However, I wonder how the departed would view their headstones, often chosen by others, as appropriate and fitting?

  5. dave.s. says:

    It’s okay, but, well, Mary Baker Eddy had a live telephone line installed in hers, just in case. I don’t know if the church is still paying the bill for that phone..

  6. Pingback: “Guess I Found Another Lost Weekend…” | Professor Mondo

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