Graveside Reflections

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

A rose for DadTidying up Dad’s grave is always a difficult job and today was no exception. In the heat, the grass grows rapidly and the flowers wilt fast, so there was much to be done.

Today’s effort was made that much harder by the numerous people swarming the church yard. Most of them were part of a cycling party, there to here a bell-ringing demonstration and enjoy one of the most scenic churches in Suffolk. All well and good, except when you’re trying to pray and they’re busy photographing everything in sight.

However, they weren’t the only ones there. There was a couple of old people, cleaning up the graves of their parents and most of their contemporaries. That, I suppose, is the fate of the long-lived. The chap, in particular, was keen to talk. He pointed out one grave in particular. The guy under it dies in his 20s, in 1946.

“He survived the war. He survived being a Japanese prisoner of war. He survived building that railroad,” said the old chap, resting on a nearby grave and warming to his theme. “He survived all that, and then was killed on his motorbike the year he came back. He ran into a telegraph pole.”

There’s no logic to death. It doesn’t fall into the narrative patterns we’d like to assign it. It just is. There. Inevitable. Unpredictable.

But life goes on, even lycra-clad, happy-snapping life, and that’s something to be grateful for. Sometimes graveyards aren’t about remembering the dead. Sometimes they’re about remembering that we’re still alive.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.