How Do We Touch People’s Lives?

If you know me well, you know cemeteries intrigue me. I will always, almost subconsciously, comment on one when we drive by it and will almost always, beg a family member to walk around one when I find one interesting. Since we moved downtown I have been begging family members, even those who visit from out of state, to walk around Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Opened in 1856, it is the place where many distinguished members of Nashville now call home. It is also the place where many more unknown, except to their families, now call home. These are the people I’m always interested in, the ones who are buried among the famous, the ones who might have done great things, but no one knows their story. There are no little posts by their graves that say “Tour Stop 5” and there are not giant headstones marking their final resting place. Sometimes you have to push the leaves away from a stone marker level with the ground to see it inscribed “Faithful Friend of 70 years”. I was more interested in this lady and her story than I was with finding George Dickel’s grave (although my recent stint as a bartender made me a little curious) or the huge pyramid marking the grave of Major Eugene C. Lewis.

You couldn’t miss those big ostentatious headstones even if you tried, as I’m sure you couldn’t miss those people in real life. But if you weren’t careful you’d walk right over Mary and her tiny stone. I’m guessing you wouldn’t have noticed Mary right way in real life either.

As I often do when visiting cemeteries, I concocted the life of Mary. She was the person you could always count on for a ride if you needed it, for lunch when you were lonely, for coffee when you just needed to vent and I bet you could even knock on her door and ask her for a cup of sugar. She’d of course give you two, just in case. She was quiet and unassuming, she worked behind the scenes maybe not even knowing she changed your life, she was just doing what she did best, being a friend. I obviously never met her, but out of all the 250 acres of notable dignitaries and I do mean dignitaries, there are senators, mayors, governors, civil war generals, she is who I’m still thinking about a day later. In my mind she deserves to be buried among all these famous people.

When we were leaving the Cemetery yesterday, Rob and I, the conversation turned, as it almost always does, to our burials. Rob’s change as often as the wind and yesterday was no different. He wants a chaise lounge as his headstone with WiFi, LED lights, and a webcam “so people can get some work done while visiting”. Mine is always the same, I want a bench under a tree where people can come and visit me, talk to me and just reflect. I want lots of flowers there, always, but today I wanted something different. I want the addition of “Faithful Friend for 90 years” on my headstone.

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