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Death with a View

August 25, 2011

“We have to stop and check that out”.

These were the words of the Pheebs upon passing one of the several cemeteries on the southside of Guam, one for each village.

When first married, we’d moved out to Brighton, MI.  With no money in our pockets, we had to find ways to amuse ourselves.  One day while walking about town we wandered into the cemetery, and we’ve been touring cemeteries ever since.

Yes, it does sound a bit macabre, but one learns quite a bit about the the place one’s in by wandering the cemetery.  The families who are pillars of their respective society (big grave markers),

The age of the town (look for the earliest death dates), and which families have either died out or moved on (untended headstones).

One of my favorites from cemeteries past was a guy with three wives; the time span between the death of one and the marriage to another (same year) left us wondering about the demise of the prior wife.  Rinse and repeat.

Guam is a very catholic island, and it shows in the cemetery.

The departed are revered, right down to a large celebration of the person’s passing on the anniversary of their death.  It’s not uncommon for families to take out a full-page ad (!?) in the Pacific Daily News celebrating the passing of a loved one.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you.  Beats our propensity to bury and forget, in my opinion.

I found this place odd for two reasons.  First, none of the markers were more than about 25 years old.  While it looked like an old cemetery, it was populated with the recently departed.

Second, the cemetery had a better view of the Pacific Ocean than the residents of the adjacent village.  If one believes in the afterlife, then the ability to ‘see’ should transcend the location of one’s mortal coil, right?  Even if one is tied to a place by one’s remains…you’re in a box incapable of seeing very much, methinks, so location should be somewhat irrelevant.

Personally, I think relative placement is to assuage the feelings of the living.  We couldn’t afford the oceanfront view in life; but we’ll give it to Grandma for all eternity.  There’s irony here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 7:36 am

    My cemetery post…poot… I didn’t get to see it with you. But in some respects I have shared many visits to locations where souls have passed on. I think due to Guam’s past the island has many wandering souls from war and invasion. You never really know when wandering the beaches and back woods who has been there before and perhaps lost their life where you bask in the sun on the sand.

  2. dangerboyandpixie permalink*
    August 25, 2011 7:32 pm

    Going back to the latte post – Chamorro buried their dead at the foot of latte, keeping the spirit of the departed close at hand. Irrespective of what we believe – this is a comforting thought.

    And yes, the cemetery would have been much more interesting with you.

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