Coffee companion reflects on lives engraved on stone
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Tiny cemeteries dot the Prairie landscape, resting places for lives well lived and reminders that we, too, shall pass this way. Photo by Marlis McDouall
Commemorating the dead is important in cultures and religions around the world.
The month of November is especially significant in this regard for most of our coffee companions in the West, with All Souls Day falling on Nov. 2 and Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.
Gravestones and cenotaphs, in particular, are timeless reminders of lives well lived. But they also speak of our own mortality; they stand at the fords of the Great River, proclaiming that we, too, shall pass this way.
With this in mind, Cochrane writer Marlis McDouall e-mailed me a poem she wrote, along with a photograph.
November is “the month that traditionally has been set aside to remember those who have gone before us,” she wrote, “be it as soldiers in the battlefields of the world, or as ordinary folks who worked hard all their lives to provide for their families and communities.”
On a recent journey through the Prairie provinces, Marlis said, she “stumbled across many tiny graveyards along the country roads, often miles away from any town or village, yet always looked after well.”
She ventured into some of these cemeteries, pausing among gravestones and crosses to read names and dates.
“I wondered about the many human stories and tragedies, now obscured by time,” she said. “In those beautiful, lonesome, windswept places one cannot help but ponder the fleetingness of life.”
Marlis put her impressions into “Prairie Graveyards,” verses she is permitting me to share with all our readers:
Thank you, Marlis. And thank you, all who have gone before; you are the giants on whose shoulders we stand as we reach up to billowing clouds and the stars beyond.
© 2007 Warren Harbeck