There are those who love walking round graveyards. I rarely take a wander in these kind of places but I can understand the lure for people. When I was at Belton House last weekend I spent some time walking around the churchyard, taking pictures and having non-maudlin, meandering thoughts about funerals.
While I was looking at the tombstones - the majority very old and crusted with lichen - it occurred to me that I had never given any thought to what my own headstone might look like. Following that thought through on its random train I realised that was because I didn't expect to have a headstone. I'm not a religious person so a burial plot this close to a church would not be an option and also what with how few plots there are about these days I have always assumed I'll be cremated and my ashes scattered somewhere. No ornate carved marker for my remains. No coffin mouldering amongst the earth and worms, waiting to be dug up and disposed of when all my kin are gone and there is another body queuing to take my place.
I liked the idea that I will have no marker, no set place for people to leave flowers and feel they have to tend. I won't be a set of dates that a graveyard explorer will see and wonder at. Some stonemason will be spared the task of creating a monstrosity in marble of a fat ginger cat with wings playing a harp.
I find churchyards to be quiet, calming places. True, I've only roamed about them during the day so perhaps at night I'd be a tad more spooked but in the rain or in the sunlight they seem places beyond people, if that's possible. Nature weaves in and out from the overgrown, flourishing forget-me-nots to squirrels dancing about their daily lives and birds hopping from stone to stone while moss establishes more of a footing. Any people you see about are quiet, often subdued or thoughtful, so a burial area is more about the absence of living people than their presence.
Any tombstone I had would not be in keeping with the sombre air that some people feel is due. I would want a simple inscription, no name, no dates, yet something that expressed who I was.
If you can't get a nod in to Douglas Adams on a hypothetical tombstone then what's the point of life? (42?)
I don't want hymns or talk of sin and redemption. I do want random readings from books I know and poems that mean something to me. The poem below encapsulates a lot of my feeling about life and not just because I dislike housework with a passion.