Mark Twain Rests Nearby

by Mark on November 17, 2010

Mark Twain stares at us from the cover of a recent Newsweek magazine. You almost hear him proclaim, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Yet Samuel Langhorne Clemens is buried a few hours from my house in Elmira, New York.

Clemens spent summers in this Upstate New York village. The first stop is Elmira College to view the octagon-shaped cottage where he wrote some of his famous works. Imagine Mr. Twain in his white suit leaning close to the table, as he scratches on a pad, with smoke swirling from the cigar clenched in his teeth.

Many helpful street signs direct you to the Woodlawn Cemetery. It is a forested area where the spirits of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn play pirate among the trees. A worn path guides you to the gravesite. A tall narrow headstone with bronze engravings of Clemens and his beloved wife, Olivia, greets us. Many emotions flood me, but the most striking is the violent contrast between this peace and his pacing energy, flowing gestures, and loud advice to politicians and public.

Among my heroes, Mark Twain sets on a high pedestal. His words stir my imagination. I continue to grin at his wit. The author is also a tragic figure who prematurely lost loved ones and mismanaged a huge fortune, yet we inherited his treasures. The twinkle in his eye and impish grin constantly remind me to maintain the child in your soul and invest as much intensity in play as you do work.

If you are near the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York, pay a visit to the grave of America’s greatest author and humorist. I enjoy Mark Twain’s company every day. Grandson Jaymeson’s parents gave me a very special gift. Stenciled on wall of the den is my favorite quote,

“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

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