When Marcos Ramirez tells people he buries the dead, they grimace. But, Marcos does not think of his work as something to look down upon.
“Everyone has to die someday, and we take care of you,” he said.
Marcos works at Palm Royale Cemetery & Mausoleum as a groundskeeper. He works with two other groundskeepers, Alex Campos and Rolando Quintana. Since Marcos has the most experience, six years total, he has been helping the other two guys along and training them when necessary.
Groundskeepers set up for the burial services. They level the ground for a gravesite. They dig holes and put coffins inside of them. They nurture the plants. They remove the weeds and trim the grass.
Together, these men keep the site beautiful.
“There is nothing scary about this place,” Marcos said. “I think it’s peaceful.”
Marcos knows that his job is something most people would not want to do. Most of us keep death away from our daily existence. But once we lose a loved one, and it enters our lives, the work that Marcos does becomes a dignified, rigorous craft. A funeral is a source of solace for the bereaved, and Marcos helps make it happen.
On a recent Tuesday morning, Marcos and Alex prepared a mausoleum crypt for a burial that was to happen later in the day. Alex, who has only been involved in this line of work for about three months, is confident about what the site will bring people.
“We’re putting something up to remember,” Alex said. “It is just like when you put a poster up on the walls of your house. It is to remember something nice.”
By 12 p.m. the people attending the service will gather around the mausoleum crypt. Marcos and Alex will stay in the background, unnoticeable to those present. Towards the end of the service they will make their way to the front, push the coffin inside the site and close the doors of the mausoleum crypt. It is a quiet, tense moment.
“We can’t show sadness,” Marcos said. “We have to be strong because we are doing the work and they are the ones who are suffering.”
Marcos wants everything to be perfect for the people that come to Palm Royale to say goodbye to someone they know.
“I want them to leave and say ‘them guys took care of us’,” Marcos said.