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Cradle To Grave Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

9 August 2017

There we were minding our own business, trying to mark a special occasion with a bit of solemnity when, for no reason at all, we turned around. And what did we see? We saw the old maternity ward of Seton Hospital overlooking Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma. A perfect picture.

Colma is home to the area's major cemeteries. San Francisco proper no longer allows that sort of thing. Hasn't for many years, in fact. Which occasions mysteries like that of Edith Howard Cook every now and then.

The small town has a terrific bumper sticker to make up for the ghostly role it plays in the Bay Area, though. "It's great to be alive ... in Colma!"

The fog behind the hospital strikes us a poetic touch. We come from god-know-where. And then, there we are, wriggling around and crying in the maternity ward as our life begins.

And then there we are under a tombstone.

There is a pithy Italian poem by the Nobel laureate Salvatore Quasimodo that covers this rather eloquently. We recite it silently to ourselves at every funeral we attend.

Ed È Subito Sera

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
raffito da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.

And Suddenly It's Evening

Each of us stands at the heart of things
basking in a ray of sunshine:
and suddenly it's evening.

Our translation is a bit loose because a literal one strikes us as obscuring the point.

That point being that we enter the world as if it were a stage, surrounded by adoring relatives with the spotlight on us at center stage. But suddenly the light goes off, we feel a chill and it's over.

A lot happens between cradle and grave, though.

You can catch much of it in 1/125 second or less, in fact. And you can miss much more. And forget all of it, too. Or savor a memory for hours.

We took the shot and put the camera away as we felt the sun beam down warmly on us in Colma the day our father would have been 90 years old.

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