Many who know me, for any length of time, know I have a fascination with cemeteries. They are a grim reminder that we all eventually suffer the same fate; death claims us all. But cemeteries are also testimonials to the lives lived. Inscriptions on tombstones tell you about the person. When they died, how long they lived, what they loved, who they loved, and sometimes how they spent their lives.
We took a few days to visit Munich this weekend and happened upon an old cemetery. While we could’ve spent hours searching the witnesses of the past, we only spent a little time there. We found Pastors, Bishops, Medical Doctors, one scientist, and a couple of actors who performed at the state theater. We saw wooden memorials, granite memorials, and even a metal family marker.
One headstone was of an American who made their home here in Germany. Their stone was in English and told of their love for their adopted homeland and how they never forgot where they came from. Another memorial was to a man who had explored Japan. See the photo below, it is a striking memorial.
Inscriptions of every sort graced the pages of the memorials. They stood there, quiet sentinel to the people who once were, the lives lived, and the stories shared.
There are some who would think this is a grim hobby, but many harbor the same fascination. When you die, do you want to be forgotten, or do you want someone to remember you? In some ways, by looking at the memorials, you are fulfilling a wish to be remembered.
But this is, at least on some level, the essence of writing for authors. There is an element of wanting to entertain you, but, like Shakespeare, we want you to remember us by our works. Maybe, instead of looking at a book of a deceased author as a good story, you take a moment to think of him or her by the candlelight writing or maybe an old “Brothers” typewriter plunking away at the keys. Remember that they were people too. In fact, take some time to remember every artist behind every piece of artwork as a living, breathing human being. And then marvel at the work they, a mere human, created.
Humans like to be remembered. Life is for living and maybe headstones are
a reminder to do just that. Next time you are near a cemetery, take some time to visit. You may find out some interesting facts about the people who lived, and died there, and maybe a little more about yourself in the process.
-Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer