10.25.17 - 10/25/2017


This past weekend - an unusually beautiful and warm Saturday and Sunday for this late in October - was spent by visiting two cemeteries. Many other visitors were taking advantage of the good weather as well. At one cemetery they were even taking wedding photos. I’ve seen this before. If you think about it, many cemeteries are beautifully landscaped, quiet, and provide a good backdrop for wedding photos. Truth be told, though, I’d choose a park or a beach, something more uplifting. Anyway, I noticed that several graves were decorated for Halloween, some with pumpkins - real and fake - and some had small Halloween flags. I’ll bet those same graves are decorated for other holidays, too. Some families are attentive when it comes to the holidays. One grave stood out. It had a pumpkin, a small ghost figurine, a “Boo” sign, and a gold and black pinwheel that was spinning in the wind. The man buried there died at age 80. Maybe Halloween was a time he enjoyed. The graves I was there to visit had no decorations, not even flowers, and I didn’t bring anything. Standing there, though, I was thinking that I should plant something next spring. But then I said that to myself last spring. As long as we are on the subject of cemeteries, the best named cemetery in the world - assuming there’s a belief that you are going somewhere after life on earth - is Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, NY, about 25 miles north of New York City. If you know a cemetery name that is better than “Gate of Heaven,” please let me know. I would enjoy writing about that. I already know about Angelwing Memorial Gardens, Serenity Park Cemetery, Tribute Field, Bliss Garden Cemetery, Field of Honor Memorial Gardens, and Eternal Sorrow Cemetery, so don’t tell me about those. All are good cemetery names, but not as good as Gate of Heaven. By the way, buried at Gate of Heaven are some names that might ring a bell, including John McSherry, a Major League umpire; James Farley, postmaster general and advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Westbrook Pegler, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist; Malcom Wilson, a New York governor. But when it comes to famous people, Arlington National Cemetery tops the list. Buried there are John Kennedy and his wife and children, Robert Kennedy, boxer Joe Louis, actor Lee Marvin, President Taft, Judge Thurgood Marshall, explorer Robert Peary, Judge Earl Warren, astronaut Pete Conrad, a long list of admirals and generals, and many recipients of the Medal of Honor. Those recipients include Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II. So many people visit his grave at Arlington that a walkway had to be put in. The wording on some tombstones is good enough to write down, which is exactly what I did on my first and only visit to Gate of Heaven. On the marker of a couple by the name of Joseph and Esther Guglielmo are these words: “To live in the hearts of those we love is never to have died.” Which I believe to be true. Another Gate of Heaven tombstone had this: “Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever.” Which I also believe to be true. Next spring, on my cemetery visit, I will bring something to plant.