And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Friday, October 7, 2011

An Emerging Trend

I know they've been out there before, but lately I've seen more and more of these car memorials. I'm not quite sure I understand the need for these. These days I drive by, pass, with, and around six of them that I see all the time. Including one done in soap on the rear view window. Which lets me know just how often that person washes their car.

Is death now such a venerated event that the living are no longer able to escape the memorial and grieving processes? I mean, all those that I've known who are now passed the veil I remember and carry with me. As Robert Persig put it, the holes they left in the skein of my life ache when I think about them. But eventually those places scab over. I know they're there. I live keeping in mind they are dead, but I don't feel trapped by them. I carry their memory with me. I get melancholy when I think that my grandfather never knew the man he helped me become. My grandmother isn't here to read my writings. More friends than I want to catalog never saw graduation, college, marriage, or adult relationships and friendships.

I'm at an age where people around me are dealing with the loss of parents and siblings. Some of my friends have dealt with those issues for a long time. If we all had to carry the weight of our dead, constantly, we would dishonor and disrespect them because we would not be able to live.

I appreciate the need to mark someone's passing, especially those close to us. I also respect the traditions of caring for the graves of our relatives (even as it is done in other cultures which include direct contact with the body of the diseased on an on going basis). But I'm not sure I understand the need to show this to the rest of the world. And maybe that's what is bothering me about this. I'm not sure marking ones car this way is about remembering the friends or family that are no longer with us, but is more about the person doing the memorial.


Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

Is it sad that the first thing I saw was the grammar error? (wrong form of "too") There's a significant Hispanic population in West Michigan -- they seem to have cornered the market on car memorials. Which leads me to consider it a cultural thing and not widespread.

Dr. Phil

Steve Buchheit said...

Well, yeah, but I wasn't going to leave a sticky note saying, "Dude, really, you're in college."

And I'm seeing a trend here, as I believe the road side memorials are also a Hispanic cultural phenomenon.

Michelle Sagara said...

I don't find it troubling. Sometimes people grieve in obvious ways because making a statement is important to their process. It doesn't demand more attention from strangers than fashion choices, car choices, hair-styles - all of which occur every day. It's just a way of marking an occurrence that is out of the ordinary in their personal contexts.

Some of us are private, and prefer privacy; some of us are good with words and we can find the things we need to say. Some aren't, so they use the toolset they have.

Is it all about them? Well, yes, technically, because *grief is*. Any grief, any loss, imho.

And sometimes as a society, we want people to move on and let go before they're ready, which is as much a misery as being forced to hold on and be miserable, when you're ready to move on.

Steve Buchheit said...

Michelle, I get that. And I understand how it can be difficult to move on after a close loss. The ghosts of my family and friends I have buried all come back to haunt me at times.

And maybe it is the public display of grief that gets me. Many people are very public about their emotions, and I'm not knocking that at all. But when I say it's about them, I'm saying that it isn't about the grief they've suffered. Their grief has become a badge they wear, and these car memorials are the badge.

It may also be my lingering rancor over "Support the Troops' yellow ribbon magnetic stickers or people who love this country so much they have three flag polls in their yard, have the lapel pins, hats, and shirts with flags on them. It's like they're trying too hard to convince me of something that I don't need convinced of.

I'm sure this has more to do with me than with them. And I'm not saying they should be banned, or you shouldn't do these things. I'm pointing out something I'm seeing more of and trying to get a handle on the cultural significance of it.