Unfortunately, I have had both of my parents die within the last 5 years and so tombstones have come to have a new significance in my life. I have had to go shopping for tombstones.
As a letterboxer, I have spent some time in cemeteries. The tombstones are sometimes parts of clues and landmarks to send you along your way. And both of my parents joined me in adventuring through cemeteries. We would have talks about family tombstones and discuss which were our favorites as we walked along among the dead.
The Greeks and Romans used stone markers to honor the dead and prevent graves from being disturbed. From the Pyramids to the Taj Mahal, the tomb of the unknown soldier to the Pantheon, memorials to the dead are everywhere.
Placing a permanent, time-withstanding memorial marker at the site of a tomb or grave has a long tradition. It is believed tombstones originate from a Jewish custom of visitors to a tomb or grave placing stones at the grave. On a more pagan level, headstones might originate from a belief that in order for the dead to remain in the grave, large rock cairns must be placed upon the grave.
When my mother would come along with me on my letterboxing jaunts. We would often talk about the different tombstones that we saw in the cemeteries. Her favorites were always the obelisks. So when it came time to purchase her tombstone, I knew that I wanted her to have an obelisk. Traditonally, obelisks were usually found on the graves of people with a high social status or at family burial sites. Egyptian obelisks have pyramids on the top, and symbolize Ra, the giver of all life. Others can have anything from a kind of roof to a cross to an urn. There are lots of different variations. Obelisks were most popular during the Victorian era and you see them in older cemeteries. So it was a bit of an unusual request in this more modern age.
Don't forget to check out Ryan's blog detailing his hiking adventures,
And remember that we will be raising money for the Washington Trails Association with hike-a-thon in August. Be sure to check us out on the WTA website
I hope to hike at least 40 miles on my own at home, on my layovers at work and while joining Ryan on the PCT. If you don’t want to donate via credit card on the website, checks can be made out to WTA and sent to me at the address below. Thanks so much for any help you can provide!
Amanda Arkebauer, PO Box 16131, Seattle, WA 98116