Children’s graves are always sad, but this one…

The first thing that caught my eye was the mass of artificial flowers on the grave. Then I saw a little plastic toy imbedded in the dirt above the modest grave marker. The toy was what my three year old son would refer to as a ‘guy.’ He’ll name cars and stuffed animals, but plastic men are ‘guys.’

Marcos Ruben Silva (b. 4/8/1993 d. 7/6/1996)

I leaned in closer and saw two more toys, an orange fishy and a car.

I read the marker, and the boy in the grave was but three years old. I almost vomited and definitely burst into tears. The family placed his little favorite toys on his grave so he could always have them.

I had to walk away from that little boy’s resting place. That poor child, his poor family. My oh my, the three fates are nothing if not cruel.

My best use of lens flare to date!

As I strolled through what I thought was an empty section of the Socorro Cemetery, I realized that the grave markers had disappeared and with each step I was sinking into old graves. I’m kind of a stomper when I walk, so I made an effort to step lightly so as to avoid being knee-deep in someone’s final resting place.

Closer to the front of the cemetery, a very large prickly pear was growing out of a grave marked only with a slender metal stake with the number 19 on it.

I noticed that the sun was shining brightly when I turned to face the grave, so I took several shots to make use of the heavy lens flare. The last shot I got was this one, which was admittedly overexposed a bit. I worked on that in and also employed a faded border to highlight the color of the flare.

Of course, as I was doing this technical stuff, I was once again waxing poetic about the cactus being nourished by the remains of the  person below ground. Being an atheist, it rather depressed me. Here you go living your life, you croak, and then your body is broken down into its mineral makeup so you can be cactus food.

Oh well. I guess a cactus has a right to live too. And, I’ve eaten plenty nopalito paddles in my time. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust? More like, cactus in my body, my body in a cactus.

Now I’ve totally grossed myself out. Everything we eat is nourished from dead stuff. Or feces. Horse poop, chicken poop, you name it. Worm castings! Blech!! I put those in my garden. That’s nasty.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (New Orleans)

Look! The City of the Dead has electricity. Plumbing too! (wastewater system not included)

This is the older of the three cemeteries I had a chance to visit over Easter weekend. They call the cemeteries w above-ground tombs Cities of the Dead. It is an apt name. Most cemeteries I have visited the dead buried in facing one direction. I haven’t ever been to a cemetery where the Romany (aka Gypsies, which some consider a pejorative term) are buried. They traditionally bury their dead standing. However, I just bet the graves face one direction.

In the New Orleans cemeteries, the family tombs are organized along what can only be described as streets. And, there are distinct alleyways. There seems to be a main avenue and then side streets, too. In St. Louis No. 1, though, there are also segregated portions based on religion.

That reminded me of the lovely Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, Texas. But, Concordia has all kinds of sections (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mason, Chinese, the Nursery). And, I bet the corpses are mummified rather than completely disintegrated as they are in New Orleans. (yeah, because that’s something to ponder. I’ll just store it under ‘potential for zombies.’ But, wouldn’t a mummified zombie be awfully brittle?? Not much of a threat, really.)

AAH! Why do I sit here considering the type and danger level of zombies in graveyards? There aren’t any. I wander cemeteries on a regular basis. I have never seen a ghost, heard a strange noise, felt an odd breeze, or been attacked by zombies. In reality, what horrifies me the most are the graves of young mothers and their dead children. Particularly when the family plot contains so many children who lived for a just a few days…and sometimes just a day.

Recently, pop star Libby Allen suffered her second still-birth. While the media called it a miscarriage, she actually lost a six month fetus. That is a still-birth, not a miscarriage. How awful for her. I wonder if many of those dead infants in cemeteries were still-born.  I’m not even sure how a person would go about researching such a thing.

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Castle Grave (Driftwood, Texas)

I just wish I were a fly on the wall when the concept for this grave was developed. Shoot. For all I know, maybe I was!

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Count your blessings that I didn’t take pics of the most depressing grave ever. It was a metal crib around a 2 year old boy’s grave. It’s only second to a family plot in the Live Oak Cemetery up the road from me. The tombstones read: Mother, Father, Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby. It’s strange. There are a lot of dead children in that graveyard. But, up the road a bit (off of Dittmar), there are hardly any dead babies. The only lesson I can draw from this is that in the 1800s, you should have lived north of Slaughter Creek. Even I don’t like to venture into the woods behind my house alone anymore. There’s something wrong with that creek.

It was named for Augustine B. Slaughter, a Texas Ranger. They say his body is buried somewhere back there.  Seriously, local historians claim that he is buried back there. Maybe my house was built on his grave! [Cue scary movie song and haunted TV. Remember when televisions went all goober-boober late at night? Test patterns, snow. Yeah.  And right before the channels went off, they’d play the national anthem. Complete with amber waves of grain!]

Concordia Cemetery (El Paso, 12/2010)

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The best part about this shoot is when I forgot to put the memory card in the camera before taking some really super-awesomely neat pics. I’m left with these. They’re okay. Nothing spectacular. There’s one extra-crappy picture in the bunch that I have thrown in for your amusement.

I hang my head in shame! I turned a pretty blue sky into a yellowed Polaroid nightmare. And, I did it twice. But you wouldn’t know that because the second cocked-up shot was turned to B&W.

I do make up for the bad color pic with a Zombie Tree! ooooh! I don’t want to go near that thing after dark. Looks like it’ll reach out and grab ya!