William A. L. Taylor Monument, Homewood Cemetery

Monuments tell us stories beyond the mere data in the inscriptions. Here we have a monument for William A. L. Taylor and his wife Stella. William died young, at the age of about 38. His wife was about six years younger, so she would be about thirty-two when her husband died. Her death date has not been filled in, but since she was born in 1874 we can be confident that she is not still alive.

So much we know from the inscription. Now we speculate. How much can we guess from this stone?

First of all, the missing death date is easy to account for. Stella must have married again. A young widow of thirty-two—one with money, probably, since she was able to give her deceased husband a rather expensive stone—might easily have married and lived fifty years with another husband, if she married soon.

But we suspect that she did not marry very soon.

We are fairly confident that Stella, not William, bought this stone. A man of thirty-eight does not expect to die soon. A man of sixty may decide to buy a stone, to be ready when he has need of it, but a man of thirty-eight probably expects to have thirty-eight more years in him. When death came, it was probably unexpected. Therefore the widow bought the stone, and therefore the widow decided to have her own name and birth date placed on it.

That is nearly equivalent to a vow not to marry again. And it does not surprise us. A woman deprived of her husband at such a young age might well feel she had lost the only love of her life. How could he be replaced? How could she even imagine replacing him?

We imagine, therefore, that Stella married later—perhaps as a still-attractive young widow of forty, She had had long enough to realize that life continues, and brings wonderful surprises, beyond what she had considered the end of her happiness.

That is the story we read in this monument. We may be reading it wrong, but it is a good story, and it seems likely.

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