Monday, May 1, 2017

The Lone Fir Cemetery

Exploring Portland

I'm not alone in my macabre fascination for cemeteries.  Many cemeteries around the world make it into the Fodor and Lonely Planet Travel Guides.  Pere Lachaise, Arlington, La Recoleta and Forest Lawn are all included in travelers' itineraries.  And so when I read in my Belmont District brochure that "Lone Fir Cemetery is Portland's oldest continuously used cemetery and is now a de facto arboretum with 500 trees representing 67 species," I followed the map to find it.  It is located in southeast Portland at 26th and Washington Streets and in this writer's opinion, one of the loveliest spots in the city.
Lone Fir began as a private burial site for pioneer families.  It became an official cemetery in 1855, four years before Oregon achieved statehood so there's a lot of history here.  I found it particularly interesting that early Chinese immigrants who worked on the railroads were buried here, as well as inmates from Portland's first mental hospital.  It is estimated that it is the final resting place of 25,000 people.
Of course, the trees and flowering shrubs were gorgeous, but it is the collective spirit of the tombstones that always gets me.  Every human being on earth has a story to tell.  Death is Life in the past tense.  We are all One.

Our religions are failing us.  Dividing us.  We need to embrace a philosophy that unifies.  A more humanistic viewpoint that bonds us all together.  (Or an alien invasion.  That would do it!)
My own dear mother passed away a week ago.  I will be making a trip to Kansas shortly to bury her next to my father.  I dread the funeral, but she still embraced Catholicism so I have to force myself to endure the woo-woo discourse.

If I had it my way, I would hire a band and dance around her grave.  I would set up an open bar and grill steaks over a mesquite fire.  Laughter and smoke would mingle and rise to envelope us with a sense of wonder.

I would celebrate her Life.

  Her one and only life.

  The one she lived on Earth.

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