I have taken up a new hobby this week. It involves walking around graveyards. I used to do this anyway, but now it is given a greater purpose.
I live in a part of Poland which was part of Germany until 1945 (it didn't become part of the 'new' Poland after WWI). Historically there was a large german speaking population, some of whom moved (or were made to move) in the post-war years.
Recently I was approached by a woman (via the internet) who had read an article I wrote about working with a village theatre group in this area. It turns out her father had been born in the village and had been drafted into the German army in WWII. He was later taken prisoner and ended up in Britain. The lady wanted to know if i could tell her about the village.
While finding some websites for her I came across a German-born living in Canada who was also root searching and whose great-grandfather had been born in the village where my wife works (a different village). I contacted him and he sent me some information about his family tree.
Hence, I have been walking around graveyards, with various levels of success looking for names and dates.
What has also become apparent is the loss this region has suffered. many of the german graves are in the far corners of the cemeteries, overgrown or destroyed; the names unreadable. Occasionally somebody might have put a flower or candle on a lonely grave but often they are forgotten... in stark contrast to the "In loving memory", a memory which is probably dead and gone, but occasionally rekindled in the root searching of someone who never knew these people.
Around me the remnants of this once thriving culture slowly fades. The old people get older and the young have no interest. The visiting 'tourists' who once lived here become older and fewer.
Perhaps, as an outsider, I notice these things more than some around here, particularly those who have always lived amongst it and do not notice the slow, gradual change. Or, those whose memories wish to forget such things which this represents. But someday I'll be left as a reminder of the last remnants and then one day i'll be gone too.
Who remembers the names, who recalls the lives, who still cries for the little child interred over 60,70 years ago who now "rests with God".
This is but a tiny corner of a world which most people will never see, never know of and never care... and I know there are millions of tiny corners all around the world.
Depressing as it sounds, I actually find this a little life affirming. sooner or later, I know I'll be in one such corner (as we all will), and I'll be a faded, and then lost, memory in the blink of the world's eye.
So, why get worried about things which are little importance. that idiot who cut me up today, the surly barmaid, the obnoxious student I have to give time too when others are more deserving...
They are but fleeting. I have better things to concern myself with, nicer people to meet, more enjoyable things to do and more splendid days to enjoy.
I'll keep visiting my new friends and keeping up my new hobby. Their eternal silence speaks volumes in reminding me that life is for living and enjoying while it is there.
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!
Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"