When trying to decide what to do for my memorial monument, I was somewhat at a loss in the beginning because it was in a way scary to imagine it but, when I took a step back and looked at it as an artistic way of leaving a simple reminder of who I am and what I want to leave behind it became much easier. Doing this was in a way like decorating a MySpace page. It is a way to show who you are without someone ever meeting you. I decided to be creative (as much as I could be) and make my monument look as realistic as one in a cemetery but, put my own spin on it so that it felt more like a happy thing to look at rather than something to mourn. I decided that the actual memorial itself would be a fountain. The iconography book correlates the idea of a fountain to the Virgin Mary, who is widely regarded as the fountain of living waters. Although I could never see myself as being as precious and divine as the Virgin Mary, being Catholic I have always looked at her in statues and read about her and aspired to be the kind of woman she was. She always gave me the sense of being caring, devoted, nurturing, and the image of safety. As a woman, these are all the things I want to aspire to be in my lifetime. If I never become a famous actress or writer, I want to know that I cared for someone with all my heart, stayed true and faithful to all those I met in my life, and provided the feeling of safety, warmth, and nurturing to my children and loved ones to the best of my ability. The fountain is also symbolic to me because ever since I was little I grew up around fountains. My entire family loves fountains. We have them everywhere in my house. The sound of the trickling water gives me such a tranquil feeling and seeing birds and other wildlife drink from the fountain always gave me such a sense of pleasure because I am such an animal lover. A fountain to me gives the essence of ever flowing water, although each of us has a life that ends, life itself is never ending.
As well as fountains gracing my house, I always grew up with flowers everywhere. Both my dad and both my grandmas were “greenthumbs”. They can make anything grow and it always amazed me as a child, and still today as I have grown older the beauty that can come from a flower. I would have the images of colored flowers around the entire base of the fountain including my favorite of all flowers the Easter lily, which is also the symbol of purity, and the Hibiscus which is a beautiful flower of the Pacific Islands, which blooms into one of the most beautiful flowers but dies quickly suggesting the brevity of life. Although we all make mistakes through life, I have tried my entire life to be pure, good, and honest no matter what situation I come to face. Although I have made mistakes, I always tried learning from them, growing stronger and making sure to not make the same mistake twice, and to help others from making my same mistakes. I am constantly trying to be the best person I can be especially around children, because I want them to grow up feeling loved and to steer away from the negative and evil in the world. Children are my passion is life so, this also reflects the nurturing person I always want to be. Whenever I am around kids and adults you will usually find me surrounded by the kids playing games rather than off with the “grown-ups”. I guess you could call me a big kid! My boyfriend’s daughter has been one of my most inspiring challenges because each year that she gets older and struggles I try teaching her about staying true to herself, remaining as pure as one can be, and always fighting for what she believes in no matter what others do to hurt her.
I love color. My room has each wall painted a different color and thus my memorial would be bright and colorful. My favorite color is blue so of course the main piece, the fountain itself would be different shades of blue to not only represent my favorite color but the peacefulness of the color itself. I have always been told I have an old soul and that I should have been born in the sixties so, I must say there would be a peace sign on my monument somewhere. My friends and family have always called me a “hippie”, and anyone who knows me knows whenever I have the chance I have a flower tucked into my hair somewhere. I am usually the peacemaker in all arguments, and I have always hated fighting and done whatever I can to resolve conflict. I would have the sun and the moon on my monument because I love astrology. I have stars and moons all over my room, and my entire life I have always found great pleasure in lying in the grass and star gazing for hours.
One of my other greatest passions in life is animals. I am an animal lover to the extreme. I have always grown up with a zoo in my house. My pets are my best friends. I always feel they will never let me down, and they are always there when I need them. I believe they are more devoted and loving than most humans I know. Although I am terrified of bugs, I am the kind of person that does not have the heart to kill anything. I have a tattoo of a hummingbird because to me a hummingbird is rare, beautiful, and unique. It also gives me the idea of flying, which has always been something I wished I could have done each time I found myself in a hard time in life. I would certainly have a hummingbird on my monument to symbolize the importance of what it means to me as well as showing a piece of my love for animals since I would be unable to put all animals on my monument.
On my memorial I would also have a pair of ballerina shoes. I have danced my entire life and dance is one of my greatest passions in life. Even if I never go on to a competition, I dance because it helps me express myself and because I enjoy it greatly. Along with the ballerina shoes, I would have a music symbol next to it because I am a music lover. I love to listen to it, sing to it as well as play music. I have played violin for ten years and it was one of the most challenging yet, most amazing things I have ever been able to learn. The sound that comes from a violin is so beautiful and pure and it is one that always stops me in my tracks. Whenever I need something to calm me down I listen to music of any kind and I instantly begin either feeling better or crying my eyes out but, either way I am accomplishing something.
Nursing has been one of the hardest most challenging things for me to arrive to and accomplish. Although I still have not reached my RN, there would be a symbol of it on my monument. It is such a huge part of my life and who I am. I have always known I wanted to be a nurse because all I ever wanted was to help others. I have been the kind of person who wants to change the world for the better but, always known I am too small to do it alone so, I look at nursing as a way to help people one little step at a time. Making someone smile when they are at a hard time in their life has meant everything to me.
Among other symbols there would be a symbol of hands holding on my monument. Not just to symbolize my boyfriend and I but, all my relationships in life because without all the people I have had to hold my hand through hard times, I would never be who I am today. I would have the holy cross with ivy wrapped around it on the very top of the fountain to not only show my faith but, to show that no matter where you are in life, and no matter how religious you are, you always have to believe in something higher and more powerful than you, or else you will be lost in life without guidance and you will be tempted to feel better than those around you. The ivy would be there to symbolize fidelity, support, friendship, undying affection, and the trinity. This connects to me and reminds me of all the tough times in life where I felt as if I walked alone. I now know God was there with me each time never leaving me to bear it alone much like in the Footprints prayer, He was always my support even when I did not know it and even when I had given up on Him. Although I am not the kind of person who goes to church every day, reads the bible, or preaches about God’s will, I have always tried to be the best person I can be based on what I think God would want in his children. I have always tried to care for others despite what they have done to me. Although this has made me vulnerable, and I have been hurt many times because of it I would not change one thing about this part of my personality because it has made me who I am today. Along with the cross as a sign of religion I would want playful cherubs and guardian angels somewhere on my fountain. I believe that everyone has a guardian angel watching over them throughout life, and I would want one on my memorial to symbolize that someone was always there through life and will always be there, even in the after-life. I would not want them to have sad expression on their face, because that only makes those looking at memorials mourn life. I would want them playful and happy symbolizing the celebration of life.
I would also be sure to have the Italian flag on my monument because my culture plays a huge part of who I am. I love cooking so I would have something depicting my love of cooking. This is a very important family tradition taught from woman to woman in my family. I love traveling to Italy to be with my family, and take in everything the culture has to offer so the idea of travel would be represented somehow. Around the base of the monument I would have pictures of me in different parts of my life with those I love starting from birth to special occasions to the older age. This is something they do in Italy where you are left with an image of the person who lies there rather than just a name. This allows for people to feel much more connected to the monument. Since I have always loved taking pictures I would have more than one. I would have a hard time deciding the most memorable picture I have to depict who I am or the life I led.
Lastly, I would have two sayings on my monument and a prayer I have always lived by. “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”, “Live to the fullest, Laugh at all the things that don’t matter, and Love with all that you have and more” and the Serenity prayer. These sayings and prayers have been with me the past five years of my life. Although that does not seem like a big chunk of time thus far, they have made a huge impact on my life. I had a really hard time during my teenage years and found myself in a hole not knowing what to do to find happiness. Although today I am a much stronger and happier person, I still refer to these messages to help myself make it through the hard times and find hope to one day be exactly where I want to be in life, not only with a career and family but, to be the person I have always strived to be and finally be truly happy with who I am. These messages are not only a constant reminder to keep working hard but, they are what I live by today.
I would have something simple like my name, date of birth, and day of passing and then something like “still dancing…” on my monument. I feel this leaves the essence that the soul of that who has passed on still remains the same. When we saw the monuments in the cemetery that had sayings such as “Gone Fishing” they truly touched me. It left me with such a warm feeling about a person I had never even met, and gave me the feeling they were happy wherever they were. That is the same kind of message I would want to leave behind. Although, my monument may sound extravagant I would not want it to appear that way. I would not want it to be huge, and on top of a mountain somewhere because I do not feel I am any more important than anyone else. I would want to be buried around my family and friends to keep the idea in mind that we will always be close even in the after-life. I would like to be around nature, a beautiful tree or garden and be as simple as the person I am but, truly show the beauty of what I had in my life and offer others to find that same beauty that I was able to have.
Ultimately, rather than being buried in a cemetery I love the idea of being buried near a waterfall, as near to nature and as far away from the craziness of life as possible. I would want it to be a place where people can come to relax and reminisce without the industrialization of a society’s impact. I realized on this journey through Spring Grove that although beautiful, it is a business and can still be a place where money and materials play a major role. I love the idea that in the after-life I could leave my image in a place, much different than the typical resting place where one can be left to return to nature and the earth in the simplest way possible. I would want my memorial to offer peace and hope to others and leave a positive message behind that others can take away with them as I have had the experience to do during my time at Spring Grove Cemetery.