Yesterday I went to Lone Fir Cemetery again. I didn’t have anything special I needed to do or learn, but something always presents itself if you keep an open mind.
I saw tall, handsome iris on the way. We are now cruising towards full-on summer, with iris, poppies and roses running amuck, and hydrangeas just getting started.
At Lone Fir, I sat in the shade by the graves of these two friends. I can’t remember or read their names, but I remember their story. They were two men, inseparable best friends, who died within days of each other. Their friends buried them side by side and planted a maple tree at their heads. Over the years as the tree grew, it has enveloped the headstones. The roots have joined the two graves and the friends are together forever. Sad and lovely, my favorite kind of story.
Further along, I noticed a chestnut tree. It has shed its blossoms and the tiny chestnuts are showing! They look odd, like baby opossums or baby swans.. .scraggly and fragile, nothing like the beautiful, hard, mahogany-colored nuts they will be by fall.
In a corner of the cemetery I hadn’t visited before, I saw a flat headstone almost entirely covered with dried, mown grass, thrown over the stone by years of ride-on mowers. I could just make out the flower decoration.
I sat down and tried to brush the grass off so I could read the stone, but it had been there for a long time and was stubbornly stuck. I tried rubbing, but my fingers got sore.
I found a Fir cone and used it as a scrubber to loosen the layer of grass, bit by bit. Scrubbing, blowing, and tugging at the overgrown grass, I worked up quite a sweat as I uncovered letter after letter.
“Acred totheme….” read part of the top line. What language was this? I needed to know more! I kept going, scrubbing and sweating and wishing I had worn a hat.
Finally I had uncovered it all.
“Sacred to the memory of John Peabody
Born Nov. 9, 1846
Died Jan. 2, 1877
Aged 30 yrs 1 mo & 24 dy
Erected by his brother
No mysterious foreign language, just a modest memorial to a young man by his brother. I haven’t been able to find anything about them in the local papers of the time, which means they weren’t rich or powerful, just pioneers like thousands of others who came to Portland, lived as best they could, and died young.
I walked home, as I always do from Lone Fir, thinking about life, how we live it, and what we leave behind.