January 25, 2005

Floral Tribute

Why do people put flowers at the roadside when there’s been a fatal accident? Wouldn’t a streetlamp or a warning sign be a more sensible use of the would-be donations that burn through people’s pockets when there’s a sentimental gesture to be made?
And worse, why are the flowers usually cellophane-wrapped carnations from the garage, which wilt immediately and blow about the place, making it untidy and possibly causing a further road safety hazard.
This, and not the donation-mania that is currently sweeping the nation, is the Diana-isation of society. What possible use does a dead princess have for cellophane-wrapped carnations or soggy teddy bears or whatever other rubbish was left at the gates of Buckingham Palace?
If I die, and people leave litter on my grave, I will be most insulted.


11 thoughts on “Floral Tribute

  1. Death is not about the deceased but about the mourners. By leaving flowers it gives them a link to the deceased and allows them to grieve. It’s allows the virtual link between the mourner and the person who has left to have a physical mark or manifestation.
    I don’t understand why people feel a link to Diana but they did. Then again when someone dies (Ray Charles, John Peel) people leave short blogs on marking the occasion. That isn’t all that different. We form connections to people, even people we never knew I guess, and want to mark the feeling of loss somehow when they have gone.

  2. people leave short blogs on marking the occasion. That isn’t all that different
    Yes it is: blogs biodegrade; polythene flower-wrappings don’t.

    Karen on January 25, 2005
  3. I’d like to be buried in a landfill. That way when people leave flowers and teddy bears on my grave (as they surely will in the by no means certain event of my death) no one will have to clear up the rubbish afterwards.

  4. That’s an implementation issue. I was explaining the why. People badly handle the how.

  5. My complaint is not that people have to mourn, it’s that people have to express their grief by littering.

    Karen on January 25, 2005
  6. People express the festival of Christmas each year by chopping down thousands of trees and throwing them away. People are selfish.

  7. And espeically don’t lay down christmas trees at the site of an accident when mourning.

  8. An acquaintance died last Tuesday in a road accident (ran over by a bus). There are no flowers there yet, only the usual appeal to witness yellow sign. I think wilting flowers tied to the railings would cheapen her memory. I want to remember her alive and dignified not sprawled over the pedestrian crossing.

  9. “Black-eyed Susans
    Ron Rash
    The hay was belt-buckle high
    when rain let up, three-days’ sun
    baked stalks dry, and by midday
    all but the far pasture mowed,
    raked into wind rows, above
    June sky still blue so I drove
    my tractor up on the ridge
    to the far pasture where strands
    of sagging barbed wire marked where
    my land stopped, church land began,
    knowing I’d find some grave-gift,
    flowers, flag, styrofoam cross
    blown on my land, and so first
    walked the boundary, made sure what
    belonged to the other side
    got returned, soon enough saw,
    black-eyed susans, the same kind
    growing in my yard, tied to
    the bow a tight-folded note.
    Always was all that it said,
    which said enough for I knew
    what grave that noted belonged to,
    and knew as well who wrote it,
    she and him married three months
    when he died, now always young,
    always their love in first bloom,
    too new to life to know life
    was no honeymoon. Instead,
    she learned that lesson with me
    over three decades, what fires
    our flesh set early on cooled
    by time and just surviving,
    and learned why old folks called it
    getting hitched, because like mules
    so much of life was one long row
    you never saw the end of,
    and always he was close by,
    under a stone you could see
    from the porch, wedding picture
    she kept hid in her drawer,
    his black-and-white flash-bulb grin
    grinning at me like he knew
    he’d made me more of a ghost
    to her than he’d ever be.
    There at that moment

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