A grave situation


August 1, 2010 by jessperriam

One of my earliest memories is of being in a cemetery.

A little macabre, isn’t it?

I remember the hot West Australian sun beating down on my little three year-old head, with my black hair into a bob cut (I was the 1980s Suri Cruise, for real!). I can remember the gritty yellow sand mingling with the sweat in my sandals. I also vividly remember a jade green bag I was holding with a juice box in it.

I also remember complaining.

“When are we going hooooooooome?”

You’d think we were at Fremantle Cemetery for a funeral. Wrong.

Back in ’88 Mum was into family history decades before Who Do You Think You Are? made it cool. By the way, thanks for ruining the surprises should I become legendary enough to warrant being a subject on the show. Convict blood? Check! He got done for armed robbery in 1800-something or other? Check! Story over. Roll credits.

I know family history warranted the trip to Freo Cemetery – I think it was to photograph a great great grandparents grave or something like that.

All I know is that there’s a photo of Little Jess sitting on a gravestone. And it’s not Bon Scott’s (about the only awesome resident of Fremantle Cemetery). Ripped off.

But that early experience is why I don’t find cemeteries creepy. I don’t find them sad. I find them… kind of boring.

I went to Père-Lachaise Cimitière in Paris to see where some of the more interesting people choose to spend eternity.

I caught up with Edith (Piaf – lots of sad middle aged women), Jim (Morrison – interesting cross section, Jim has bad cemetery real estate though) and some guy called Victor. He was cool because instead of a headstone, they made a bronze model of him lying dead. Oh and this Victor Noir chap was a journalist. I hope they immortalise me like that…

It was a nice walk for a Friday morning. Did I mention it was interesting? But every so often, the three year old Suri Cruise doppelganger Jess wanted to crack out an “I’m boooooored!”.


3 thoughts on “A grave situation

  1. Keryn says:

    I disagree. I find old cemetries fascinating. I love the history, the stories that the headstones tell. Whether it’s about a man who lost his wife in child birth or a grandmother that lived to 100… old cemetries tell us so much about our past. I also love the country cemetries where they are completely overgrown with weeds and wildflowers.

    I think it’s sad that in 100 years time there will be no record of where people are buried – just a rusted plaque with some cremated remains. But I do think modern cemetries are a waste of space. They don’t have the character of the old cemetries when families would spend everything they had to make sure they paid tribute to their loved ones with a massive headstone or tomb.

    My mum and I still enjoy visiting old cemetries when we travel together. Some of the English cemeteries are very interesting. And then of course there were the catacombs in the outskirts of Rome, which are some of the oldest burial places in the world. Of course, nothing will ever match the pyramids for the ultimate tribute to death (or should I say afterlife?) but I strongly suggest that if you’re visiting an interesting old town or village then a trip to the local cemetry is very worthwhile.

    • jessperriam says:

      Bradbury! Good to see you back on board!

      Please tell me you got my overtly Pope riddled postcard from the Vatican just to annoy Wade…

      The cemetery in Paris was brilliant simply for the history… oh and the Cemeteries of the World photo exhibition!

  2. […] at the idea of lamb’s fry on the motel breakfast menu), so it was off to the cemetery. Cemeteries aren’t normally very intriguing, but this one had the grave of the late humanitarian Fred […]

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