Respect, decency, dignity

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It is rare for one, simple sight to inspire an entire article, but alas, today is the day. I draw your attention to the seemingly boring photo that I took in South Mountain, and specifically, the path of the snowmobile track. Snowmobile tracks don’t lie – whoever was riding that sled rode it not only through St. Daniel Cemetery, but specifically overtop of more than a dozen graves. You may have to squint to see it in the photo, but the evidence is there. 

I have never thought of myself as “old school”, but perhaps that’s because there are certain basic tenets of human decency that I don’t think should be tied only to certain schools of thought. Respect for the dead is one such value. Those who run funeral homes are the very best of people. I will never forget when my maternal grandmother passed when I was 11. It happened on December 22, and the funeral was on Christmas Eve. I was devastated, of course, but the emotional release and closure of the funeral brought instant comfort. I was still sad afterward, as anyone would be, but there was a certain indescribable comfort in knowing she had been laid to rest. 

It was the same feeling with my paternal grandfather at age 13, and other more distant relatives in the years that followed. The dignity of a funeral helps bring closure, and I respect anyone whose job it is to provide that closure to strangers day after day, year after year. 

Some people may genuinely not care if their loved one’s grave is being driven on by a snowmobile. Some may think that I am being a “snowflake”, as the saying goes. I even considered the possibility that there is some kind of arrangement allowing snowmobiles to use that area as a connection to the adjacent field, since (as you can see in the photo), there is an opening in the fence. But surely that’s not the case? I could understand allowing snowmobiles to ride along the edge of a cemetery, but not right overtop of more than a dozen graves! Besides, there is a another track not seen in the photo the runs diagonally right through the cemetery which shows that these snowmobilers are almost certainly not supposed to be there. If there is an arrangement, I find that upsetting. 

North Dundas people are good people. All people make mistakes. Anyone with children knows the feeling of wanting the world to see the good in your child, and their potential, even after they make a mistake. I don’t hate whoever is driving over graves in South Mountain – all I want to do is provide a gentle reminder about respect, decency, and dignity. The people buried in that cemetery once lived lives just as we are living right now. Their families laid them to rest so all could be at peace, not so that they could become part of a recreation trail. 

I am forward thinking but I still respectfully listen to old school views when elders are sharing their wisdom and life experience. I am not religious, but I still turn my car music off and pass respectfully when church-goers are gathering outside on a Sunday. And those may not be my relatives in St. Daniel Cemetery, but I still don’t think it’s my right to drive overtop of them. There was no damage done, and the spring will melt the snow tracks and the evidence along with them, but that’s not the point. The point is that we would all benefit from remembering the basic values of respect, decency, and dignity. 

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