A quick visit this morning to check something turned into a lengthy sojourn at Columbia Gardens, which is, luckily, just down the street from my house.
Columbia Gardens, like Oakwood Cemetery in Falls Church, is a fine cemetery full of ambitious monuments, though both fall short of the great rural cemeteries. Both have some older burials, but for the most part, one sees efforts from well into the twentieth-century. Very many in Columbia Gardens are quite recent.
As a result, both reflect the ethnic diversity of Northern Virginia, and that can lead to interesting, and sometimes charming surprises.
Figure 1: Que serà serà! James Alatis faced his mortality with aplomb.
This monument (figure 2), which in my complete ignorance I am surmising to be Japanese (or to have Japanese written on it), I found charming in its romantic overgrown site.
I thought at first that the Metzgers has gifted us with a late rare portrait in bas relief on a recent (c. 1996) monument (figure 3). But upon second and third look, I’m betting that this female face is meant to be that of the Virgin Mary. The veil and the olde tyme garb are what persuaded me. I admit I don’t like this style of portraiture which is very datable as late-twentieth or early twenty-first American and has a sort of rose-tinted quality about it. It’s sort of naive, and so anecdotal that any eternal verities it tries to convey are sorely compromised.
Not infrequently you find a Roman tombstone consciously addressing the random wayfarer who might pass it by. This is one of the few American monuments I’ve seen to consciously do the same thing (figure 4). The inscription in black at the bottom reads:
Thank you for stopping by. Our life’s simple
philosophy is, “The Joy is in the Journey.”
To share more with you about our life’s journey,
please visit http://www.galaviz family.com.
Bad news: the URL goes nowhere, whether galavizfamily, galaviz family, or galaviz_family is used. So the web site, if it ever existed, is also defunct.
Figure 5: Surely not written by the decedent, right? If it were it would be sententious and self-complimentary and not attractive at all.
Figure 6: I admit to you I can’t tell whether this man was a jockey or a claim is being made that he was a sport in life, playing the ponies.
Stumped by this one too (figure 7). The severed arms with stigmata are in the wrong direction for the cross, if the T is meant to be a cross. Or maybe the symbolism is just foreign to me.
Don’t hate me for bursting into laughter when I got close enough to read the caption under the (wait for it) angel statue (figure 8). I rigorously try to see the best in every monument. But this was so unexpected.
Is the Towsey monument (figure 9) not glorious? Are you not entertained?
I find this monument (figure 10), which is at once a headstone and a bench, very charming because of the ‘before and after’ photos of Ruth. I don’t think I’ve seen this before.
I presume the angel on the plaque (figure 11) is lighting and leading the way. However, it is the wondrous angel face above that wins my admiration.
I believe this (figure 12) is Vietnamese, and it is just wonderful. Not visible is a niche in the lamp for a tea light.
Any man who quotes from Little Big Man on his monument (figure 13) is OK in my book. And, we see where Star Trek writers got Mr. Worf’s signature line. Mt. Weather, about 40 miles west of D.C., is the place where the government relocates in case of disaster.
The last supper is not infrequently seen in modern cemeteries. Columbia Gardens offers us the chance to see two (figures 14, 15) and compare them. Each has its strengths, though the look on Jesus’ face, exasperated and cross-eyed, in the Maturi monument (figure 14) did raise a smile. The “Byrd” of the Byrd monument (figure 15) was the U.S. Senator.
I will leave you with this one (figure 16), which I liked because it is romantically suggestive with the autumn leaves, and because I can’t wait for this endless summer to let up and turn into autumn already.