Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Green Of Astatula Cemetery

One might assume based on the title of this post that I will be speaking of the greenery found at the town of Astatula’s cemetery.  Being that I am in Florida, the green of the grass and trees in a cemetery here is year round and in many cases it is quite beautiful, but today I want to share a story.  To me, cemeteries are not packed full of dead people, but rather, abounding in stories.  Every person that has been laid to rest whether it be in an urn, sprinkled across the ocean, buried in a magnificent coffin, cast out into the sea, buried in a shallow unmarked grave or elsewhere, has a story.  They were loved and now lost.  They lived a life, some shorter than others.

Today, I decided to stop and wander through a cemetery I pass by in my travels every week.  It is the town of Astatula, Florida’s cemetery.  As I meandered between plots snapping pictures of headstones that caught my eye, I saw a white truck turn in to the cemetery.  It rolled through slowly following a well worn path marked by tire tracks and I half thought for a moment that this was a maintenance truck.  The truck pulled up near me and an older woman asked me if I was taking pictures of the grave.  I wasn’t sure how to respond and I prepared to hear a lecture on trespassing or something.  I told the woman that I was indeed taking pictures of headstones because I was fascinated by them and that I passed by this cemetery many times and finally decided to stop and explore it.  She smiled and then began to share a bit of her story with me.
Lisa Margaret Green was born in 1968 and passed away in January 2008.  She was only forty years old.  I am forty-two, so the age really hit home for me.  As the case generally is with a young death, cancer was the thief that stole the life from Lisa.  Her mother, Viola, explained to me that Lisa had visited the doctor with symptoms that were misdiagnosed as early menopause.  Lisa actually was suffering from cervical cancer.  She succumbed after two painful years.  Her grave is covered with stones, which I found significant because laying a stone upon a headstone is a way to pay one’s respects.
Unfortunately, Viola’s story did not end there.  A magnificent granite headstone featuring mourning angels lies catercorner to Lisa’s grave and bears not only the name of Viola, but that of her husband, the Reverend Leo Green.  He had passed away only two months earlier.  Viola explained that Lisa’s death really took a toll on Leo and that he never was the same again.  She had come to the cemetery this morning to bring him flowers.  There were many plants and flowers at his grave and she explained that he had loved his flowers.  I told her that my late mother-in-law was a beautiful gardener as well and that we had spread her ashes in her garden.  Viola told me that she liked to visit Leo’s grave, so she could talk to him.
I wished her well and left her to her solemn duty grateful for the gift of her story.  So many times I study headstones wondering who is this person and today I was able to hear about two of them.

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