A little while ago Mr B and I pushed a pram with a sleeping Madeleine through the Melbourne Cemetery on Lygon Street. It is old and sprawling and, as you would expect, wonderfully peaceful. Some of the graves, especially those closest to the road, were shiny and beautifully kept, dust-free and with fresh flowers to show that those who lay beneath were remembered and loved, even 10, 20 and 30 years on.
But in other sections, old graves were crumbling back into the ground, broken headstones and rampant moss hiding almost all of what was once I'm sure meant to be a lasting memorial of someone deeply loved, then lost.
It got me thinking. Most of us will only be remembered and missed for two generations. Three tops. I will tell Madeleine about the friends and family I have loved and lost. Maybe we will visit their graves sometimes. But she never knew them, can't really mourn them. I doubt she will tell her children about them.
And so they are forgotten.
Last weekend we returned to the cemetery and I took my camera into the forgotten corners. Along the dirt footpaths that had scarcely been trod for decades, probably more than a century, except for the odd visit from a groundskeeper.
I wanted to celebrate, together with you, all the mothers and fathers, the daughters and sons, the husbands and wives, the friends. Because once upon a time they were everything to someone. They deserved to be remembered again.
They are called Bridget and Victor and Edmund and Daisy and Giovanni. They are the public servant who is dearly missed by his friends. The Aboriginal elder who saved colonists from a pending massacre. The war heroes, the politicians and sailors.
They are Michael and Margaret Bulger, who moved out here from Kilkenny in Ireland and died in South Melbourne 100 years ago. They had three sons, new little Australians. Distant relatives, perhaps? We promised each other we would go back and leave flowers at Michael's and Margaret's grave.
They hail from Italy and England, China, Switzerland and Israel. So many of them came to Australia to start new lives. Many of them fell in love, started families. One grave is marked with heartbreaking simplicity: "MOTHER." That is all.