In the northern Romanian province of Maramures lies a merry cemetery. For that is, in fact, its name. It is a cemetery so merry, my mother and I both wanted to be buried there.
In 1935, a poet and wood carver by the name of Stan Ioan Patras carved his first headstone. Engraved was a rich poem of the newly deceased's life with a pictorial representation. The entire piece was painted in bright colors, with the base color in the village's blue hue of choice.
The headstone was a sensational hit. From that moment until his death in 1977, Patras was commissioned to create headstones for all the freshly departed locals - 800 in total. Since the village was small and no one's life was a secret, no help was needed for the epilogue; meaning he had full artistic liberty to write what he pleased. Nobody knew what to expect.
Some images reflected one's life. Others reflected how they died. Some eulogies bore straight facts. Others left the reader sorrowful. And a few did just the opposite.
His legend has not died with him, though. For his apprentice has become his predecessor so that the Merry Cemetery can live on.