When I was a child I was apparently shielded from death for the most part. I don't really remember ever really visiting a cemetery in my younger days other than Boot Hill in Dodge City, Kansas and I'm not sure that was even a real cemetery or just part of the tourist make-believe scene.
I can recall adults talking about death in somber quiet tones as I would carefully try to listen and try to understand what they were talking about. In the 1950's it didn't seem like many people really died and when they died in the movies it was all drama and no blood. When I was a child death seemed like a story and not something that really happened.
During my family's drive across country when we moved from Pennsylvania to San Diego I remember visiting historic Front Street in Dodge City. Part of the attraction was the rustic cememtery called Boot Hill (because they died with their boots on), but it all seemed like comic fun with crude tombstones with funny epitaphs similar to the following which is actually found at Boot Hill in Tombstone, Arizona:
Here lies Lester Moore
From a forty-four.
In a poetry class that I took when I was attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, one of our assignments was to write our own epitaph. This was probably around 1972, although I actually used a song that I had written in high school in about 1969. The song was intended to be performed in a style reminiscent of carousel music with something like a grand Wurlitzer organ providing the instrumental backing. As far as I am concerned songs are poetry, so this one worked for the project of my epitaph:
Look into the eyes of death,
Cold and lifeless now they seem,
But once these eyes had warmth within them,
And once this man was still living.
When I lived I ran through fields
And strolled on paths near mountain streams.
I knew beauty and I praised it.
I had wishes; I had dreams.
But now these eyes no longer live
And this body is turning to dust.
The project as it was turned in was typed inside a tombstone shaped outline. Curiously I put my date of death as 2036. I hope I live longer than that, but if I were making a prediction at that time that turned out to be correct then I still have several years to go. So far my prediction has been accurate--- thank goodness.
Have you written your own epitaph? What would you want your epitaph to say? Would you rather change the subject? Does death creep you out?