a tombstone from 1798 is talking to me

My friend Barbara lives across the street from an old cemetery, a place that never ceases to fascinate me. This grave stone became particularly vivid jutting out of the snow with its 1776 Revolutionary War soldier star and flag beside it. It reads,

“In memory of Mr. Nathan Gilbert
who departed this Life
Sept 1st 1798 Aged 71 Years.
Hark from the tombs a dolefull sound
My ears attend the cry
Ye living men come view the grave
Where you must shortly lie.”

I am one of the “living men” whom these words address. I am in awe of that and of the words themselves, so pristine despite having faced weather like this for 217 years.

It’s such a challenge and a delight to stand in a place and imagine what it looked like long ago. Places tell us secrets if only we will listen. There is an inn with a tavern just down the street from the cemetery that claims to have opened in 1749. I bet Mr. Gilbert threw back more than a few pints of ale in that tavern, perhaps discussing General Washington or the burial of someone in his church’s cemetery or the coming of another cold winter.

It’s strange… just taking the time to think about this one person, to imagine who he was… I feel like I made a new friend today.