Garden of Stones

by Mark on June 20, 2011

The Defiance, Ohio cemetery is a forest carved with roadways surrounded by a garden of stones. At its very southern point blooms a monument of love and art over the grave of my nephew.

On a warm summer night, the type that glows in memories, our world shook with the sudden death of the talented and irresistibly funny Ted Moninger. A year passed, since this beloved 17 year old left us. Sad shadows creep into many summer evenings.

One relief is strolling through the Defiance cemetery. It is like touring a museum of memories. My Dad taught me how to drive on its roadways. My biggest fear was bumping into some granite with his prized Olds. Dad’s grave is near his parents, brother, sister, and the original Webers of 1858.

The garden calls out names as I pass. Some are parents of friends. Others I remember from church or as customers of my popsicle business. Monuments come in an endless array of shapes and sizes. The letters on Civil War gravestones are barely visible. Obelisks were popular in a past era, their sharp points dulled by rain and snow. Technology changed grave stones. Some monuments are laser carved with the words and images of life. Some are interesting, but none comes close to the uniqueness of my nephew’s stone.

Ted was a musician, artist, jewelry designer, gardener, and amateur oceanographer. Carved on one side is a perfect replica of the huge aquarium he built in the bedroom. Clown fish swim above vegetation. Ted constantly worried about the algae, filters, and food. Above the tank is a spectacularly carved sun breaking through clouds with the words, “Ted embraced God through his love of all creation and creatures.”

In the front is his garden with the blooms and rocks that still bring cheer to his parent’s yard. The centerpiece is a pond, so real that your fingers can almost dip into the cool reflections. In a garden of stones, Ted’s resting place is a bouquet of loving memories.

A year is a small step for a family in pain. A garden of stones helps the rest of us understand priorities. Life is too short to regret yesterday or worry about tomorrow. Today is our only promise. We worry too much about jobs, homes, and golf handicaps. There is prescious little space waiting on our stones, just who we loved, and who loved us. Rest in peace, Ted.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo June 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm

What a nice posting, Mark. I cannot believe it has been a year since this tragedy happened. Thanks for sharing.


Margie July 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Thank you for your thoughts and the photo of Ted’s monument. It is a beautiful stone and I can tell much love went into selecting the images and verse. There is something special about the cemetery that has personalized monuments that allow us to see a glimpse of the person we are honoring. I have looked through the tributes from last year and realize what gifts Ted shared during his life. I am grateful for your reminder – to live for today and appreciate those who love us. Ted is fortunate to have his Uncle Mark to write about him and honor his life. Good job, Cousin Mark.

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