Ooooh I love a graveyard. A bit of nature, a bit of peace and a bit of the BEST people watching ever. And I don’t just mean the living ones.
Try this for a creative exercise: take a walk around a graveyard and examine the gravestones. On a good trip you can discover some fabulous real life names that are just begging to be turned into characters; Gwendoline Annie Banny would make a great crazy aunt in a children’s’ book. Looking for a romantic heroine? How about Molly Jean Summerhayes? And they are just some of the relatively normal names. Look a bit harder and you can find some real corkers.
Midge Inglis, Colonel Malcolm Trumpet, Ruth Beauty Cloud.
But my absolute favourite game in a graveyard? Spotting the connections between graves and trying to figure out their stories.
In a nearby cemetery is a collection of graves that are a little over a hundred years old. Edith Ward Brown is buried there, dying at 67 years old. To her right is William (Billy) Ward who died three years before her, also aged 67. To her left is Donald Henry Brown who died the same year as Edith and who was also 67. What’s the deal?
I have often imagined that Edith and Billy married young in the kind of semi-arranged marriage that was common at the time but, late into their married life, Edith fell head over heels in love with a neighbour, Donald. Being the good woman she was she waited until Billy died before moving on and marrying Donald. When Donald died a couple of years later a broken hearted Edith followed him to the grave.
But this doesn’t answer some of the more peculiar questions.
- Why were they all 67?
- Why was Edith not buried under the same stone as one of her imaginary husbands? And
- Edith died last, yet is buried between the two headstones so a space must have been left for her.
The truth has been buried with them so I’ll never know. Perhaps it is merely coincidence and they are all strangers linked by the peculiarity of names (though I hope not, I would be so disappointed.)
Whatever the reasons they have kept my mind occupied, sometimes with romantic stories, sometimes with a serial killer obsessed with 67 year olds.
Next time you’re in a graveyard take a minute and have a look at the stones. You’ll be amazed at the stories you can create.