Portfolio > The Hyphen Series


My husband and I were planning to move to Charleston, SC and we were spending more and more time here. As I learned to know the city, I became enthralled with its history. I took a strange pleasure in its cemeteries, especially the inscriptions on the tombstones. Many had a great amount of detail about those departed lives, not just the dates for when people were born and died, as we do today. I learned there was a poem written about inscriptions, that the dates are not important when compared to the hyphen that separates them and what we do during that span. It made me think of their legacies and my own.

by Martin Collis
I read of a man who was asked to speak at the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone, the beginning and the end

The first and the last days are markers in time.
But what do those days really mean

What matters is not the birth or the death
But the hyphen which lies between

For the hyphen is the time you spend on this earth
Just a hyphen to show what a life's really worth

And it isn't a house, it isn't a car, and it isn't a 53 Gibson guitar
It's not a position, it's not a possession or membership in a prestigious profession

It's not in the labels on your clothes or your shoes
Or the places you've been or seen on a cruise

We're human beings not human doings
Who pursue money and fame and keep on pursuing

The words on the tombstone are "kindness, and love, family, friendship and laughter"
These are things that continue to ring when your body has reached the hereafter

Choose wisely and well when selecting the goals that you choose to base your life on
To miss the joy is to miss it all and a terrible waste of a hyphen-