"I Did Not Die" - June and Lakewood Cemetery
- Published on Thursday, 09 February 2012 22:08
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(From June's Poem Collections)
"I Did Not Die!"
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush -
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
(I am the flowers that bloom.)*
(I am in a quiet room.)*
(I am the birds that sing.)*
(I am in each lovely thing.)*
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!
(Author - Mary Elizabeth Frye - 1932)
Although I understand the admonitions and the advice of this beautiful poem, I still find myself overcome by grief and weeping on many occasions when I stand at June’s grave during my weekly visits. I am sure that some would criticize my conduct. My response would be that Jesus wept when advised of the death of his good friend Lazarus. Why should I be held to a different standard of conduct? (John 11: 35: “Jesus Wept.” (KJV)
Note: This poem was found among some of June's remembrances of her mother Haldis C. (Varnes-Rolstad) Nedland. I thought it was beautiful and touching. Some of June's finest qualities came from her mother Haldis. Haldis passed away on 28 August of 1988 at Chetek, Wi.. I named the poem "I Did Not Die" as June's version had no name. There are a number of versions of this beautiful poem in existence. Most have the name "Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep". The Poem has achieved world wide popularity.
The original author is thought to be Mary Elizabeth Frye. In 1932, Frye of Baltimore, MD, is said to have written the poem for her closest friend following the death of the friends mother in Germany. The friend was said to be a Margaret Schwarzkopf, a German Jewish lady who was not able to be with her mother at the time of her mother's death and burial. In her grief, Ms. Schwarzkopf lamented how she had been "denied the chance to stand at her mother's grave and say goodbye!" The Poem was Frye's attempt to console the friend in her grief.
There is also a Native American version which appeared in the late 1990's. It was named "Native American Prayer." In December 2006, it was translated by Man Arai into a Japanese song called "A Thousand Winds". - There are other versions and other claimed authors but the Frye authorship appears to be the earliest and most likely the correct author for the original version of this most beautiful poem..
I have added four lines to June's Poem. They are the enclosed lines with asterisks. These lines were said to have been in the original poem by Frye. (Mary Frye interview - 2000) June's version of the Poem as I found it, had 12 lines to which I added the 4 enclosed-asterisk - lines for a total of 16 lines. -
Photo Notes: (1.) The above first photo is by Jim Gehrz taken during my visit to June's Grave at Lakewood Cemetery with fresh roses for Memorial Day 2010. The bag has the old replaced flowers. - (2.) The next photo was taken by granddaughter Gretchen after I delivered fresh yellow Roses to June's Grave during the summer of 2011. My normal routine is to visit June's grave every Wednesday noon, rain shine or snow...in late spring, the summer months and early fall, I place a dozen fresh roses every week...in the winter months I shovel snow from the marker and a path from the nearby roadway. In the late fall I brush the leaves and other debris from the marker. During the late fall and during the winter months a holiday style wreath on a stand is in place! (3.) Another Jim Gehrz photo taken in May 2010 looking north from just south of the "Seasons" marker for section 35 of the Lakewood Cemetery. I am standing just above June's grave marker and the permanent bronze flower vase - immediately after having replaced her roses with fresh new ones.(4.) The 1st winter scene below was taken around Christmas time in 2010 showing the June's Holiday's' wreath and holder (Left) that is installed prior to Thanksgiving and remains up until the following spring in 2011. Wreaths are installed immediately behind the markers. (5.) Photo of Vice President/Senator Hubert Humphrey. (6.) The next photo just below the Humphrey photo is a winter picture of June's grave marker that I clean off every Wednesday as to snow or ice accumulations using a small collapsible shovel and a stiff plastic brush. The winter of 2010-2011 was a very heavy snow winter. The deer photographs are described separately below.
An Earthly little Angel named Vicky
Several years ago June and I met a little lady at the old Lund’s store on Silver Lake Road in New Brighton. This little lady was a special employee at Lunds and was working as a Bagger. She was sure to always greet us with a big friendly smile and always by name…June loved this little lady and the two always greeted each other with a big hug and a big smile…when Lunds closed, Vicky moved over to what is now Cub, just up the street a mile and continued doing her Bagger work…Vicky and June’s greetings continued the same every time their paths crossed…When June passed away as a victim of Alzheimer’s in October 2008, Vicky did not forget June and would always ask about her when she would see me in the store. I started my weekly purchase of a dozen roses for June about five years ago this month…(October) It was convenient for me to purchase them at Cub and then swing onto the freeway to make my way to Lakewood Cemetery. Whenever Vicky would see me picking up roses for June she would always request that I tell June she loved her. This I would try to remember to do during my little prayer sessions at Lakewood as I arranged the roses on June’s gravesite. Vicky now also greets me the same way with a loud shout of recognition and a big smile and a big long hug…When ever this little lady requests that I tell June that she loves her, I also assure her that June also loves her…
I remember the time I came in for roses and felt that they were not of good quality and were not fresh…I became very angry and in a loud voice advised Cub what I thought of their manner of providing June’s roses…in the middle of my rant, Vicky who knew nothing of the matter spotted me and shouted my name…she hurried on over and gave me a big long hug…how can one stay angry in the face of one of God’s little earthly ministering angels…my anger evaporated. Cub has since found a way to get me my June roses in a fresher and better condition for my weekly trek to Lakewood to see June…and Vicky continues to give me messages of love and hugs for both June and I... (3 October 2013)
("Season's" Section 35 - Lakewood Cemetry - May 2010)
Lakewood Cemetery is a large private, non-profit, non-sectarian cemetery located in Minneapolis. It is located at 3600 Hennepin Avenue .and immediately south of 36th Avenue. It is noted for its Chapel which is on the National Register of Historic Places and was modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. It is maintained and administered by a large year-round staff. It is bordered on all sides by a large steel grill fence and is closed to the public after 8 PM.
Lakewood was established in 1871 and has long been considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country. It was modeled after the rural cemeteries of 19th-century France, such as the famous Père-Lachaise in Paris.
It is more than 250 acres in size, with many trees throughout. Lakewood also has its own small private 8 acre lake on the west side. There are 11 miles of winding roads. The general contour of the cemetery is small low wooded rolling hills.
There are a number of national and state celebrities buried in this cemetery. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Paul Wellstone are both buried here. Congressman Charles Lindberg, the father of the famous aviator Charles Lindberg is buried here. "Tiny Tim", the entertainer is also buried here. In addition, there are a great number of the State of Minnesota's Governors and state politicians and other historical celebrities buried here. Vice President Humphrey was often referred to as the "Happy Warrior". Happy was a correct description of June. With "happy" personages such as Hubert Humphrey and Tiny Time, June appears to be in good company. While June and I were impressed with the historical personages making up the background of this cemetery, our decision to make this our final resting place was influenced entirely by the beauty of the location as well as the obviously well maintained appearance with a large year-around staff.
June is buried in section 35, Tier F6, Grave 4 in what is called a Lawn Crypt on 27 October 2008. This is near the center portion of the cemetery close to the Veteran’s Memorial on the south side and the Civil War memorial on the north side in what is called the “Season’s” section. The Elks Lodge section is immediately to the west adorned by a large Elk statue. It is only a short distance from the small lake on the west side. This cemetery has probably more civil war veterans than any other cemetery in the state including the VA Cemetery.
Many years ago, June and I made our arrangements for our final resting place. Because of my military service during the Korean War, June and I would both have qualified for burial at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in St. Paul. June preferred a non military cemetery without the regimented identical markers on a large flat terrain.
We spent a week touring the many cemeteries in the Twin Cities Area and Lakewood was the one that both June and I liked the most. We immediately purchased a lot. I love this location and almost every week when I am there visiting June, I am so thankful that God directed us to this location. It is so beautiful and a fitting place for June. It was during this week of searching that June advised me that should I pass on first, it would not be her intention to remarry.
Neither of us favored cremation. Many religions did not approve of cremation at that time. Some approved only under special circumstances such as hardships. (Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Mormon etc.)…many decisions were said to be based on economic reasons. We were both traditionalists and we had the economic means to follow tradition. We really never gave much thought to any other means of burial..
Because of the favorable habitat of rolling wooded hills and a small lake, there is some wild life living on the 250 plus acres including a small herd of deer. (Estimated at 11-15)
The Deer also love flowers and they are very choosy as to what they eat. They ignore the inexpensive flowers and concentrate on the Roses and Tulips. At first I thought someone was stealing the Roses that I would bring out for June’s grave site flower holder fresh every Wednesday noon during the non-winter months. I noticed that the inexpensive flowers appeared untouched while my roses were disappearing. The Lakewood staff advised me that it was the deer and that they love the Roses and Tulips. At first I doubted this story but did note that the stems were always left and just the flower tops were missing…then one day when I arrived with fresh Roses, I saw three deer grazing and they were literally on top of June’s grave. When I got out of the car they ran off a short distance and watched me, apparently waiting for me to leave. They were beautiful and I would guess June would be happy to have them around her gravesite. The Lakewood staff had in fact photographed some of them and I have two of the photos that they were kind enough to give me. (Reproduced below) The staff also advised me that last spring (2011) after they had put out thousands of new tulips in a special fresh flower display for Memorial Day, the deer ate most of them in a single day.
(Photo taken in spring of 2011 just west of June’s gravesite – two fawns.)
(Photo taken fall of 2010 just East of June’s grave-site – Young buck.)
Stan’s Introductory Comments: By publishing these “Reader’s Comments,” it is not my intention to in any way suggest that the marriage relationship and the love that June and I had/have for each other and experienced during our lifetime together is in any way superior to similar relationships of other’s. It is merely a collection of the reactions of readers to this page in June’s website. Some are simple appreciative comments; some are generous and kind comments reflecting the care and concern of others. Some comments are a sharing of the reader’s own experiences. Many reflect the love of God. These comments often reflect the human and the caring side of the readers. It is my hope that if June is able to look in on us, that she can see and understand how much I appreciate the love and the life that she gave to me and that I miss her very much…there will never be another to take her place! If anyone is searching for evidence of a caring and loving God, need they look further then these comments?
Sarah Stagnall - York, United Kingdom - (8 June 2012): "Wow, I am a friend of Norm Mac's and just looked on the website you have made for June and I am almost in tears. She must of been a very special person, and I love the poem "I Did Not Die". Sending you my thoughts."
Linda Wallwork - Portland, New South Wales, United Kingdom - (3 August 2012): "I really enjoyed looking at the photos but I admit...I did chuckle about the Deer eating the expensive flowers :>))) Thank you for sharing."
Amy Stiel Almas - Waterford, Michigan - (3 August 2012): " I was turning off the computer and ready for bed but could not help but read your writings. I have tears in my eyes having read these notes. As you know, my Dad also died of Alzheimers . I understand the pain. You are such a special man. It is such a rare love and June was very lucky to have known such love ♥."
Heaven Raja Heaven - Tunis, Tunisia - (3 August 2012): "Me too, I feel sorry for you but at the same time happy to read what are you doing, real love it last forever. My mother died 7 years before my Dady go cemetery all the time either afer having alzheimers he didn't stop to go there."
Linda Brannan - Glasgow, United Kingdom - (3 August 2012): "Gods blessings as always."
Dementia UK - London, United Kingdom - (3 August 2012): "Your continued dedication is so touching ."
Kathi Spina Giles - Brighton, Michigan - (3 August 2012): "How beautiful and special!"
Donald Mc Cormick - (3 August 2012): "Stanton, Very moving to me!"
Carmen Cesena - Claremont, California (3 August 2012): "Beautiful!! Those deer have excellent taste!"
John Rixe - (10 August 2012): "Mr Berg, your tribute is so beautful. Many thanks".
Sandy Frere - Oppenheim, New York - (7 March 2013): "I just read the poem. What a beautiful poem Stanton...I loved it."
Carole M. Franson - Edina, Minnesota - (7 March 2013): "I drove through Lakewood last Saturday to see my dad's and other relative's graves."
Cyndy Farrar Latka - Casper, Wyoming - (10 April 2013): "Stan, you are my dads age! I'm going to give my parents a "Together" stone too! I think it is so cool! They will have been married 60 years this October, the Lord willing?"
Lisa Porter Power - Imperial Beach, California - (11 April 2013): "You are amazing... My folks also have a together stone. (Pop still very much here.)"
Jane Moore - Camelford, United Kingdom - (27 May 2013): "Beautiful poem Stanton!...Hope you've had a good day! (Memorial Day) I've been working: planting up hanging baskets but it's also a pleasure!"
Linda Casey-Overholt - Coshocton, Ohio - (28 June 2013): "Love your posts – and it's always apparent Your love and thankfulness for finding June, sharing your life, and how blessed you were to have her!!! ...blessings-- to U, June, David, & all!"
Donald Hiatt - Clovis, California - (2 October 2013): "Vicky teaches us that love is easier than we sometimes want to make it. I can see in your words why June liked her, and now likes her from above...and through you...Another blessing to count...Don."
Susan Holsinger - Rossville, Indiana - (3 October 2013): "What an inspiration! Such tender love in dealing with such a dread disease where a loved one seemingly dies but still lives brought me to tears...a wonderful example of what it means to love, forsaking all others. May God unite you together in an eternity without end where true love never dies... I think there will be roses there, too."
June Berg passed away on 23 October 2008 after almost 11 weary years of battling Alzheimer's. June's funeral notice as printed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune following her death in October 2008 can be found on the top blue navigation strip under the label "In Memoriam" and on the drop down menu as item:
For the story of June’s favorite home at 6025 Gardena Lane and the poem I wrote about this home during a day of deep sadness, click on the below link: (This was June’s home for almost 40 years. It was constructed shortly after the previous home was severely damaged in a tornado. 6025 Gardena Lane was the first home the June participated in the selection an
d purchase of a lot on a small hill, helped with the design of the home and watched it being constructed. 6025 Gardena Lane had a special place in June's heart.)