Anyone who knows me understands that I feel an affinity for cemeteries and the stories they hold.I do not find them tragic last resting places, but gentle homes for stories never-ending stories of life. This writing is dedicated to a certain one, located in a Midwestern town and the story that crypt tells.
I guess I should start with how I got there. I was driving back from a vet appointment with Pippa( my Australian) on a road I have traveled many times, and there is a cemetery located just off the road to the left. It is smallish, a bit overgrown and mostly disheveled. The summer grass is green and brushes up against the headstones like a soft comforter. Then I see it, the crypt in the middle of all the headstones, resting stoically under a tree, providing shade to the aged structure. As I passed the small plot, I was compelled to turn around and enter the cemetery. I felt drawn to this particular spot and the quiet peace that rests in the middle of traffic. I turned around.
The cemetery is a an island of sorts in the middle of two lane roads going in opposite directions, so a quick u-turn is acceptable. I turned. As I enter the Old 4th Avenue Cemetery, I drive past the Rolle Bolle courts on the left and quietly roll down the quiet asphalt/gravel lane. I park the car and get out. As I step gingerly around the graves and pay my respects to those I must pass on my way to the crypt I notice numerous stones some are very old, some are fairly new as if replaced in recent times and many are illegible, the names and dates being worn off by time. As if the stories of their lives have been erased by time.
As I reach the doors of the Crypt, I notice they are rusted and chained closed with a large lock and chain. They look as if they may have been vandalized or simply worn out from time. The doors lean inward and share a glimpse of the darkness within. It is a stark contrast to the sunny beautiful day outside the doors. I look up and take in the beauty of this structure. It is crumbling, dated beauty. The doorway is framed by two beautiful pillars and the pillars proclaim two names one on each side Meyer and Mumm. I began taking a few pictures of the structure when I notice the words on the doors. Both doors which appear to be made of iron or steel are embossed with words. As you know I love words, so I continued to snap pictures hoping to decipher the words later. As I ended my visit of respect, stepping closer to get a better shot but not so close to invade a personal space of the residents of the structure. The words were difficult to make out, slightly aged from time and worn down but present just the same.
I returned to my car and to my sweet dog anxiously awaiting the remainder of her car ride. When I reviewed the photos I had taken the next day and tried to decipher the words that were placed forever on the doors, I realized that my shots of one of the doors was not legible. And again, I was compelled to visit. I drove down on my lunch hour and again visited the crypt to retake some photos of the left side door. Once I was sure I could make out the words, I returned to work.
My curiosity continued and I researched the inhabitants, Nellie Mumm Meyer and Dr. Robert C.J. Meyer. As I learned more about the couple, I was enthralled. Nellie was born in Jun 1864 and passed away in April 1912 from a disease called Bright’s disease. They shared a brief 8 year marriage but shared an eternal love. Dr. Meyer was born in Jun of 1865 and passed away in Mar of 1934. His contributions to our local area both politically, personally and medically were impressive and vast. He was a doctor, inventor, politician and pillar of the community and its development and growth. He was instrumental in the securing of the land that once housed the Illinois Western Hospital for the Insane which became East Moline State Hospital and is currently the East Moline Correctional Center. His political career was illustrious even by today’s standards. I have attached a few links if you would like to get to know Dr. Meyer in detail.
What was most interesting about this that I live in a home that was built by the son of Henry McNeal who platted Watertown in 1856, where the current East Moline Correctional Facility resides. So that means that Dr. Robert C.J. Meyer and Mr. Henry McNeal could have been business associates during the purchase of the land. It’s possible and very interesting that I was compelled to stop at that spot on that day.
But the real reason I am writing is the words. The words that were inscribed on those doors, speaks to love. Love for Nellie Mumm Meyer, eternal love. Love that stands the test of time, love that lasted on earth for 8 years, but forever in his heart. They are hauntingly beautiful and they seem to be a perfect combination of science and emotion. Coming from a medical doctor they seem perfect. I tried to research the words and determine if they came from a poem or a book, but could find nothing. So knowing nothing more, I give the credit to Robert a testimony of his love for Nellie.
Life is the expression of kinetic love.
The power that binds all and from whence all things spring.
Love is inherent and everlasting
Death is potential love.
The quiescent state that invites
decay and the resurrection
of a new life
The chasm between Life and Death
is but force.
We should all have eternal love.
Until Next Time,