Marquette Park Cemetery

Marquette Park Cemetery

We left for the Marquette airport at 6:50 a.m.  The six days of vacation with our son and his girlfriend so quickly disappeared and this morning their American Eagle plane soared skyward, headed west.  I fondly lingered to wave goodbye as they proceeded through the security checkpoint.  (Hint to future travelers leaving the Upper Peninsula:  do not put expensive thimbleberry jam in your carry-on bag.  It weighs over three ounces and therefore is suspect as terrorist contraband.)  Thank goodness I remained to take home the delicious jam.  Otherwise the security folk might have enjoyed the $ 12.29 (10 oz.) jam!

I know why it costs that much.  You try picking enough thimbleberries to make jam.  But that’s a story for another day. 

Today we’re talking cemeteries.

Otto Lundin

Otto Lundin

Cemeteries are interesting places.  One walks through them with a sort of  reverent hush.  The birds chirp and the sexton mows the lawn and you ponder the ancestors lying beneath the ground with only headstones to mark their passing.   You wonder about the dead.  Who they were, what they looked like, how they lived, how they died.

Who was Otto Lundin?  It looks like he died at age twenty two, in Alaska.  Did his parents live in Marquette?  Was he mauled by a bear or snuffed by typhus?  How did the body get back to the Upper Peninsula?  Did he have brothers and sisters who cried at his graveside? 

The gravestones tell so little.  Look at this one:

Anna

Anna

 Anna.  I felt kinda soft and sad just seeing this small flat gravestone.  We don’t even know an age, a date of birth, a date of death.  Nothing except the wisp of a name.  Anna. 

Wrought iron gate...perhaps a mausoleum?

Wrought iron gate...perhaps a mausoleum?

One of the family members suggested that wandering around outdoors in a cemetery might be “morbid”.  I beg to disagree.  Perhaps after dark it might be a little spooky.  But in broad daylight it’s one of the most peaceful places one could imagine.  Especially in the areas with the old graves from the nineteenth century. 

The Marquette Park Cemetery features tended gardens, ponds, ducks and bridges.  Community members stroll through regularly.  Years ago, visiting a friend in the city, she inquired if I wanted to join her for a lovely walk.  Guess where we went?  I had never returned until today…but want to remember and visit here again.

Swirl of lily pads on pond

Swirl of lily pads on pond

I especially like the way life and death mingle together here in this cemetery-park.  The reverence for the old ones joins with the laughter and excitement of small children feeding ducks in the pond, mothers pushing strollers and a woman smoking a cigarette and tending flowers while lingering near a recent grave.  

Children feeding ducks on pond

Children feeding ducks on pond

Life and death are companions in this special place.  And isn’t that the way it always is, although sometimes we don’t choose to recognize it?  I left feeling a deep reverence for this journey of life and death, and a desire to appreciate it even more.

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