Letter From Langdon: Memorials Beyond the Grave

[imgbelt img=I29crosses528.jpg]Suddenly, there’s something up ahead. We see it and then the roadside memorial fades. Sometimes it seems lives come and go just that fast.


last place where we know it was. I always felt a craving to visit the spot where she was killed. It’s final, like closing a door.

The usual way to remember the dead is with a marked grave, but some of us choose instead to mark those actual, awful spots where friends and loved ones died. These days these makeshift memorials are common along rural roadsides.

Some are really very imaginative, like the white painted love seat that faces the setting sun I saw placed along Interstate 435 near Kansas City.

Others are tall enough to be seen in grass and weeds far off the highway, such as those on Interstate 29 consisting of two crosses decorated with wreathes and rechargeable lights. At night the dim lights flicker like candles.

On Missouri Highway 5 an elaborate memorial that I’m sure is maintained by relatives or a friend graces the eastern right of way. My family passed by one day to see a distraught mourner laying down a bouquet of flowers on the spot. A few weeks later, a cross, praying hands, and hand-painted stones had joined the flowers. This one is always well maintained and groomed, at least weekly if not more frequently.

other places like Europe. I suppose one reason might be that cemeteries allow displays only at limited times, such as Easter or Memorial Day, if at all. 
cycle of earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Mother pondered the question of how to preserve Dad’s memory, but honored his last request that his remains should not be consigned to one particular “place,” even though later on we purchased a family plot in a cemetery adjoining part of our farm.

become a form of folk art — poetic and eloquent expressions of grief. We can experience the mourning, joy, and love, of total strangers, or simply express our own crushing loss.

You never know when or where the next one will appear.

You’re cruising down the highway lost in thought — suddenly there’s something up ahead. Moments pass in the blink of an eye. We’re upon it. Then in a second it lies behind, and the roadside memorial fades at a mile a minute. It almost seems as though lives come and go just that fast.

They will be missed.