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A CLOSER LOOK

Cemeteries

Where the Past Whispers and Solitude Beckons

August 04, 2000|MARY COONEY | LOS ANGELES TIMES

A walk among tombstones can be a reminder that life is short. But take the time to read the inscriptions that loved ones have etched as a goodbye, and the permanence of life is apparent too.

In the stillness, the cemetery becomes a place to exercise the imagination and rediscover tranquillity.

To stroll along the pathways of the Santa Ana Cemetery, tucked into a residential area of this early Orange County community, is to walk through life stories and history.

There are many lives to ponder here. And many eras. The cemetery is one of Orange County's oldest, established in 1870. It is the resting place of just over 16,000 people, including more than 500 veterans.

Some headstones simply have a name and date; others are elaborately decorated with photographs or sketches. Use a little imagination: Who is buried here? What must life have been like during the Civil War, during California's rancho days?

Watch as visitors pay tribute to loved ones, leaving flowers and trinkets: Tweety balloons, Disney figurines, religious symbols. What significance did each hold in that person's life?

The reality of death is stark here. Inescapable. But for those willing to invest the time, another reality becomes apparent: peace.

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