If you've ever investigated the streets of the small island of Key West, Florida, you may have stumbled across a rare and strange sight: the historic Key West Cemetery. Does the idea of a cemetery on an island full of citizens not seem out of the ordinary to you? To the naked eye and passerby, the Key West Cemetery may not look different from any other land containing headstones throughout the United States-- but take a moment to pause and inspect a few of the epitaphs upon the grave markers, and you'll find a different story.
If you're planning on taking a trip to the island soon, take a look for yourself. If you'll be stuck at home for some time and your curiosity is getting the better of you, picture something else instead:
As with any cemetery you'll find throughout the United States, Key West has buried residents who spent their lives in anxiety and worry. Unlike other cemeteries, however, the residents of Key West didn't hesitate to make that known for centuries to come.
One of the most famous headstones in the entire graveyard belongs to a woman named B.P. Roberts, a local hypochondriac who was known to worry that her end would come with every illness and every tumble in life.
While many may have chastised her or made jokes at her expense as a result of her fears, she decided she would have the last word in the form of her grave stone epitaph-- look closely, and you'll spot "I told you I was sick" written upon the granite face.
Many people fear death for one reason or another, but most aren't too afraid of what might happen to their body long after death. This was not the case for Mrs. De Ayala of Key West, who had an enormous fear of what flooding may do to her body after burial. Her fears weren't necessarily unfounded: in 1846, a powerful hurricane wreaked devastation on the island, causing bodies of the deceased to emerge from their underground plots and end up all over the place.
To make sure that her body would not suffer a similar fate, she left important instructions about her burial: she was to be laid to rest above ground with a coffin supported in the air by marble columns. If flooding happened again, she hoped her body would avoid the consequences.
In the midst of a graveyard full of strange stories like these, it's only a matter of time before the visitor realizes the head fake. The stories of the Key West Cemetery are not only about those buried within, but an unwritten story about yourself. When you're buried, what will your epitaph say about you? Will it reflect the life of one who lived in fear and anxiety, consistently looking over their shoulder for the next bad thing to happen, or will your legacy remind passerby of something deeper?
In the case of Key West, there is a man named William H. Malone buried among all of the others. He was once a great Mayor of the island, helping the city to become exceptionally beautiful during the Great Depression and thereby increase tourism in the area. Amid all of his professional accomplishments, his grave marker reads only the humble epitaph: "He died as he lived-- a Christian."
If you want to know more or have other questions about cemeteries and grave markers, try contacting a company like Palmer Bros Granite Co.
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