Wednesday, October 15, 2008

R.I.P.



Commute In Peace


I have written a lot of blogs about death over the years, here, here and here. Not death per-sae, but the way we deal with it and perceive it.

It seemed that when the final door closed and we saw the bright light at the end of the tunnel, the goal was to leave behind something to mark your place in history. A pyramid, a tomb, a head stone, or a large university building with your name on it. Things that would denote your status during your time on this rock. Those days seem to be long gone.

A stroll through any cemetery indicates that ornate headstones are quickly giving way to simple markers. The markers are just for the folks that actually want to be buried. Most folks now opt for the cremation route and if they are lucky they get a place on the mantle or get shot into space. They leave little behind to be remembered by.

Which is why some of the customs that have sprung up in the American Southwest where I live seem somewhat whimsical and puzzling to me. I have the assumption that some of these 'markers' have to do with the Hispanic Culture that is pervasive here, but I am not sure. I am curious to know if any of my readers see these sorts of memorials in your neck of the woods.

I don't know if this is common in other parts of the country or whether we just have more traffic deaths per capita here in Arizona. However, it appears to be customary for friends and relatives of the deceased to erect a small memorial on the location of the death. This usually means a small cross and some plastic flowers by the side of the road. There are A LOT of these in Arizona. On some stretches of rural highway there is usually one every mile or so. Talk about highways of death?

The other oddity within the Hispanic Community is the rear window decal. These decals proclaim 'In Loving Memory [Someone's Name] 19XX to 20XX". Since Hispanics here seem to view their automobiles as a form of self expression and status, putting a loved one's name on their vehicle is a form of high honor. Sort of like a mobile tombstone that gets more exposure.

My only question is, when the car is wrecked, and eventually scraped, is this eulogy transferred to another vehicle or just relegated to the scrape heap with the rest of the car? If so, then their memory is only lasting for the next 5 years or 50,000 miles, which ever comes first.