Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Being Remembered

For a lot of reasons lately, i've been thinking about death.

No, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon (at least i HOPE not.  Why?  Do you guys know something that I don't?  That's SO not cool!  Tell me, dammit!), but a smattering of events over the past few months have got me thinking more about mortality than normal.

Actually, 'mortality' isnt really the word i'm looking for.  I guess what i've been dwelling on is more about my 'Legacy'.

I'm saying this really badly.  Let me start over.

Every few weeks I go to the cemetery with Mini-Me, to visit my grandfather.  I can't help but notice that while I'm there, there aren't a lot of people visiting.  Most times, it will just be me, Mini-Me, and some random elderly person putting flowers down on a grave every few hundred feet or so.

And that's about it.  ALL those dead people.  THOUSANDS of dead people.  And maybe 50 LIVING folks there to visit them.

And, it gets me to thinking.  "HOW is that possible?"  How can there be SO few people wanting to pay their respects?  Surely, most of these people had loving families, to which they were surely an integral part of their lives.  It just seems to me that there should be more people milling about, and i have often wondered WHY that is never the case.....

Then the answer came to me.

For many of the people buried in a given cemetery, most of THEIR immediate family is probably dead, too.

Then i thought, "Well, surely their children visit them periodically."  And i'm sure thats true.  But what happens when you advance the clock even further, and now even their CHILDREN are gone?

I mean, how many people visit their grandparent's graves?  Yeah, i do, but i'm fucking awesome.  I would bet that most people don't.

But let's advance the clock even further.  Let's talk about GREAT-Grandparents.  How many of us have gone to the cemetery to visit THEIR grave-sites?  I'd bet the percentage is near 0%.  I remember doing it a few times as a kid, but for the live of me i couldn't now tell you where the hell i was.

But go back even farther, and look at the generation before that.  I don't even know what my great-great grandparent's names are, or where they are buried.  For all i know, i could be fucking STANDING on my great-great grandparent's graves right now, and i wouldn't even know it.

So, the sobering thought occurred to me that, when you die, you could probably expect to be visited by family or friends for about 20 years or so, if you're lucky.

Hell, go out further, about 50 years or so, and you're probably lucky to even have been REMEMBERED by anyone in your family.

Ain't that a kick in the balls?  You bust your ass your whole life, trying to be a loving family member and a good dude, and then your progeny procreates a few times and before you know it, you're just some dude that your great-great grandkids find a picture of in their parent's attic and say to themselves, "Who the fuck is that clown?"

That bothers me.  It REALLY bothers me.  I don't WANT to be forgotten.  I don't WANT to just be some dusty old gravestone that people from the future step over when they're walking to the more 'recent aquisitions' in the cemetary.

No, 200 years from now I want kids to gather around my grave and tear up wistfully as they recount stories of their Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandpa Slyde.

But that's PROBABLY not going to happen.

Nope.  No chance.  I'll just be one of a gazillion other forgotten souls that eventually haunt the Wall-Mart that some future community will decide to build over my long forgotten grave site.

Have a GREAT DAY, everybody!!!!  :)


Verdant Earl said...

I know it's peaceful for some people, but I never felt comfortable visiting the graves of my deceased family members. Going to see my father's grave didn't make me remember him any more or less fondly than simply closing my eyes and picturing him.

I'd rather remember him as he lived than be reminded of his death. And that's what the cemetery does for me. So I stopped going. I honor his memory in other ways.

But to each their own.

Choleesa said...

I live pretty close to a cemetery, I can look over my back fence and see it. On Holidays, that place is jam packed with visitors....there are two sides, the ancient side which is ALWAYS empty, and the new side where all the "newly acquired" now reside...theres always someone there. Its sad, I know a few people who are buried there, and even though they are only a literal hop skip and jump away, Ive only visited a couple of times...This was a depressing thought provoking post.

Heff said...

I'm with Earl. I find "visiting graves" pointless, and apparently MOST of the population does also, lol.

I plan to be taken to the taxidermy man to be stuffed and hang out in my own living room for eternity anyway.

Damon Peter Rallis said...

Here's the thing... YOU (and I and most of us commenting here) have a better chance of being remembered until the apocalypse through our Internet footprint.

Slyde said...

earl: i can see that. My issue isnt with so much of visiting the cemetary, but of remembering who the hell you are there to visit.

choleesa: it depressed me, too. thats why i decided to post it so we could all be bummed together..

heff: i would TOTALLY put your stuffed corpse in my living room. totally.

Slyde said...

six: agreed. As sad as it sounds, 100 years from now THESE words are probably the only lasting footprint i will have.

fuck, i'd better start writing better!

Unknown said...

This is why I don't pay taxes.

Meaning I feel trivialities of our silly little existence nearly everyday. Dust in the wind, baby. Dust in the wind.

sybil law said...

Geeez, Sunshine!
The thought doesn't bother me. Maybe that makes me weird.

Slyde said...

anna: great! now you've got me humming Dust In The Wind! thanks!

sybil: That is NOT what makes you weird....

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I visit my dad's grave every year on his birthday. Once a year, that's it, but I know I think about him almost every day.

I know that he is with me all the time, so going to his grave is not high on my priority list when it comes to my dad.

It's funny, the point you bring up here about death and grave sites. Why do we do it? is it out of a sense of tradition or are the undertakers just undertaking our vulnerable money?

I dunno, but I believe that when you love someone, thier legacy lives on with you forever, And the memories that you have of that person are the respects you pay to them each time you think of them

I believe that Heff's idea of heaven would be to be stuffed for all eternity and to hang out at his beloved bar in his home.

Kate said...

I lost my mom just over a year ago, but have only been to the grave site once.. it's three hours away. Anyway, I feel her presence with me all the time, so it's not about the headstone. You write a book, put out a record - or something like that - and your legacy will have a longer shelf life. Plus, you live on in your kids...

Bruce Johnson said...

You won't be forgotten, isn't that what this blog is for, so future generation can look back and giggle at you?

Seriously, I spend a lot of time in cemeteries these days. I find them rather peaceful. It is like being in the locker room after you finish the race. No more worries, job well done.

As for me, there aren't a lot of graves to visit, since most are buried in other states. Paying respects doesn't have to mean only to your relatives. They all lived lives of consequence and discovery. I often find that their tombstones are like reading the last sentence of a long and rich story, that always leaves me wondering.

I am off on new adventures of late. Check out the NEW blog. The old one died.

Chantel said...

I love the pic you used for this. And this did make me think. I have no one buried within hundreds of miles that I know. (although there are a few I've considered putting in the ground single handidly, but that's another blog) I think most people don't like to be reminded how mortal we all are which is rather a shame, embracing your mortality makes you want to cram each day full of sunshine and sex and ice-cream.

No worries, Slyde is going to live forever, right?