Rose bud

Calvary Catholic Cemetery, Fresno, California

There are gravestones in which the motif is coupled with the epitaph to help illuminate the meaning of the written word, just as an illustration in a book is often used to reinforce the text.  The rounded-top white marble tablet gravestone of Walter, the son of W.C. and S.A. Reid, found in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery, in Fresno, California, is such an example. 

Walter was born February 11, 1881, and died less than two weeks before his first birthday on January 30, 1882.  To illustrate his “tender” age, three rose leaves and one rose bud is carved into the circle at the top of the tablet.  The three leaves represent the Holy Trinity–the Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost.  The rose bud symbolizes a young life.  Just as the bud has not “bloomed” into a rose, young Walter has not bloomed into an adult.  His life was cut short by an early death.  The metaphor of the flower representing the little baby boy is further reinforced in the epitaph:

The icy hand of death

Has touched the tender flower

And borne away its breath

Within a fleeting hour.

Walter Reid's gravestone

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