Friday, May 05, 2006

Remember: Mrs. John Wells, M.D.


Walk with me a moment
In the calming reach of the sun
Thousands of voices recorded
A lifetime, every one.


We cling to the strength of stone to fight the fear of being forgotten. Will you listen to their voices with me? Will you take a moment to remember?

Inscription:

MY
HUSBAND
JOHN WELLS, M.D.
HAVING FILLED HIS
MISSION OF TRUST AND
RESPONSIBILITY, DIED
AUGUST 15th 1871
AGED 43 YEARS


So much is poured into these words...but not about Dr. Wells. Can you hear her--the one who accepted the demands of his calling? She speaks of his mission and responsibility. They are fulfilled. Her claim, however, endures. She proclaims it to the world.

"MY husband."

Frozen in his prime. Never to be shared again.


(St. Peter's United Church of Christ, West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania)

31 comments:

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Wow. Nice inscription...and poem to go along with it.

Eileen said...

Dang. What about his mission to her?

anne said...

The tribute to her husband is beautiful, but starting with "my husband" seems... off somehow.

Bernita said...

Makes one wonder - what epidemic?

Cate said...

I would have never looked at it in that way--from her perspective! Thank you for giving me that--so true, that emphasis on "my," one word proclaiming volumes. Thank you for sharing this.

Robin said...

I, too, wouldn't have given it a thought, the word "my". Very observant you are...

Jaye Wells said...

Wonderful and insightful perspective on this. I'm intrigued by the story you have given this woman.

Sandra Ruttan said...

There's a stubborn pride that comes through in those words - not a woman reduced to sobbing and unable to cope, but one who squares her shoulders and brushes a lone tear away as she pays him tribute.

At least, that's what I see.

Scott said...

She would have done very well in your contest with her economic use of words. I hope to have something so prolific to say for my wife, or for my father.

Erik Ivan James said...

Nice.

jason evans said...

Dana, :)

Eileen, I do feel a certain hardness in the words. Perhaps she was that strong, and perhaps a touch angry.

Anne, I felt the same undercurrents, which isI why I chose this one for a picture. At this point, I only select stones which have a strong or unique voice.

Bernita, good point. Disease may have been the cause.

Cate, you're welcome! Thanks for reflecting on it with me. :)

Robin, thank you for the compliment! I try to draw on that in my writing (and try not to annoy other people with it too much in the rest of my life). ;)

Jaye, thank you. :) Since I always select stones before 1900, I often think about how these people would have reacted if they knew their words would reach across the globe so many years later. I have to think they'd be awestruck.

Sandra, I feel the strength of her pride also. I just wonder if a little resentment was tucked away in there also.

Scott, you raise a great point. For all my cemetery posts and photography, I've never really thought about what I would say on my own stone or on those of the people around me. Then again, the most appropriate words will change over time. Talk about a word limit, though! Sum up a whole life in 15 words or less. Daunting.

jason evans said...

Erik, thanks!

mermaid said...

Those voices echo in the leaves of spring:

"Remember us when the trees, when the air, when you are born again."

Sandra Ruttan said...

Jason, yes, I could see resentment as well.

Melissa Marsh said...

What a very lovely tribute.

anne frasier said...

strange and interesting inscription, jason.

i would say she sounds a little pissed. :D

Jeff said...

Great photo, Jason. I have to agree with Anne. The inscription doesn't sound very "loving."

jason evans said...

Mermaid, I see your point about renewal. Still, it's human nature to want to retain some individuality. We can become part of the grass, but we still want someone to remember our name.

Sandra, perhaps the spouses of writers feel that way. So much time given to others....

Melissa, thank you. :)

Anne, I find I can't wholely agree or disagree with her. I do think I can empathize with her, though.

Jeff, a bit cold and professional, yes. Apart from the soldiers and clergy, I can't say I've seen many tombstones focus on a person's career.

Darius said...

Yeah - she sure was on his side. And of course that also implies a lot about him. Interesting/unusual post. Actually, I'm kind of a cemetery fan. May sound spooky, but they're great places to jog, especially early in the morning with no one around and in small towns where there aren't any large parks.

And they do help keep things in perspective...

Sandra Ruttan said...

Jason, have you been talking to my husband?!

Mom of All Seasons said...

My. Me. I. How often those little words sneak in when we're trying to pretend that we're really discussing someone else.

Claire said...

Tombstones from yesteryear say so much about a society whose main goal was to say nothing publicly at all.

When we buried my grandfather earlier this year, I found myself trying to read the dates on the tombstones in the family graveyard that were so old, they were set into the ground and simply read "Mother" or "Father" or "Beloved Sister."

Then again, I also had the surreal experience of sitting on my own grave, so who knows what that's worth in the grand scheme of life...

LiVEwiRe said...

This is definitely a strange one, the wording. I thought of you last week when I saw a stone as I was driving by a local cemetery. Some day I'll try to remember my camera and get a copy of it to you. (Hmmm... don't take the fact that I think of you when I'm near a cemetery as a bad thing...lol.)

jason evans said...

Darius, I'm a long time fan also. In a strange way, it's a pure place. A place that reflects the best in people.

Sandra, LOL! I'm sure he's understanding about your commitment.

MOAS, how true. It's not always easy to find someone who truly listens and focuses on another.

Claire, I'm not sure if I'm ready to sit on my own grave. It must be a powerful experience, though.

Livewire, perhaps you'll stop back sometime. I'd be interested to see the stone. (P.S., I don't take the thought in a bad way at all!)

Kira said...

The sentiment you point out here is just striking to me today. I've come back to read it three times now.

Scott said...

Jason, sometimes I think about what I would say for my father at his funeral. I totally failed my mother in this regard.

ann marie simard said...

Me too Scott I wonder about the same.

Hi Jason and congrats for the contest.. It was a tough decision. Very, very hard when it comes to your text because it was very good, yet....

I will email all those I have the email of and will transfer credits and artwork - do choose those you like if that is the case.


And give me your BE username Jason. I will get writing emails later today.

Kindest regards

Ann Marie

jason evans said...

Kira, I appreciate the note. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who ponders these things.

Scott, I'm sure you didn't fail your mother. I have strange feelings about funerals. Expecting immediate family to speak on that day seems to be a lot to ask of a person.

Ann Marie, I'll look for your email.

ann marie simard said...

Hi, thanks for your mail. I have transferred the credits and one abstract.. you can choose two or three more - there are many many more.

Ann Marie

sandra seamans said...

My husband. It sounds like she was reclaiming what was hers. If you consider that the year he died was 1871, it could explain a lot. There were probably very few doctors and especially if this is a rural area. A doctor would have belonged to the community he served and only in death could she claim him as hers again. Just my thoughts.

jason evans said...

Sandra, you said it better than I did. Reclaiming. Yes, that's a great word for it. The stone gives you that impression standing tall among the others. She was taking him back for herself. Unfortunately, it was an empty victory.