This is particularly appropriate in view of Saturday’s “Tolomato Grand Opening,” which seems to have come upon us very rapidly! Below is an evocative little sample of the things visitors will see.
This is the plaque that is set into the outside wall of the Varela Chapel, although like everything else in the Cemetery, it has moved around and was originally located elsewhere in the chapel. The translation into English reads: THIS CHAPEL WAS ERECTED BY THE CUBANS IN THE YEAR 1853 TO PRESERVE THE REMAINS OF FATHER VARELA.
And above the words is one of the more dramatic 19th century symbols of mortality: the winged hourglass. It is made even more dramatic by the fact that the wings look like bat wings. Its purpose is to remind the living that time flies and they should consider how they are using it.
Typical of 19th century graveyards, Tolomato has grave markers and tombs that feature inscriptions and symbols that ranging from touching and poetic to stark and even somewhat ominous. But that’s why people like it.
A visitor the other day pointed out that all of this has disappeared from modern cemeteries, with their neutral, impersonal columbariums and riding-mower friendly flat markers. A point to consider.