First Visit

On Sunday, Aug 5, 2018, I visited the gravesite for the first time after the stone had been engraved.  I had submitted my first proposed design on Feb 19, 2018, to Kevin Boyle, Family Service Counselor and my contact at Conejo Mountain Cemetery.

Subsequently, I engaged in some back and forth with Corinne, who is in Chino at V.J. Memorials, a company which creates granite and bronze memorials. She and I developed good rapport. They use Adobe Illustrator to design the headstones. Our discussions covered fonts, graphics (book and rings), and font widths (the binary digits on my proposed design were too narrow for the engraving machines). Ultimately she returned to me a design, which I approved. I was told I might see the engraved gravestone by the end of July. Kevin called me on July 20, while I was wandering the streets of Paris after dark. He texted me a photo of the gravestone, after I told him I would not be able to see it for a while, given that I would not be back home again until Aug 4.

This is a photo of the actual gravestone, taken when I visited the site on Aug 5, 2018. I was totally pleased with it.

Actual gravestone

During my quest for a quote for the gravestone, I had to reject some suggestions, including those below.

Tombstone designs that make a statement

Design Explanation

The design lacks my death date, but is otherwise complete. I strugged to find a phrase that might characterize our lives. Ultimately, I chose "A teacher and a programmer ... we lived and we laughed and we loved."

Mary was born to teach and I was born to program. The gravestone reflects our careers.

Above Mary's name is a book, and her name is prefixed by Prof. To her students at CSUN, she was Professor Riggs, a title she bore with pride, dignity, and competence. The book honors both her lengthy teaching career (1967-1969 and 1982-2014) and her love of books. She not only loved them—she devoured them.

Above my name is the binary equivalent of the letters L-o-v-e, expressed as ASCII values converted to binary. (Decoding hint: In the referenced table, above the letter L is 100 and to the left of the L is 1100. Thus the L converts to 100 1100. The leading binary digit here is always 0.)

Both in spite of (I never used it) and because of (it made me a college graduate) my Russian degree from UCR, I was able to get my first computer programming job in September 1965 at Security First National Bank by passing an aptitude test; they subsequently trained me. My first programming languages were IBM 360 assembly language, Cobol, and Fortran. I continued in that profession until retiring in 2001. Since then, I've kept active by applying my computer skills primarily to volunteer work.

James Joyce said in Finnegan's Wake,  "They lived and laughed and loved and left." I'm still here, so I rejected that quote. However, the phrase on the stone is widely known and widely used, and it simply appealed to me. It's been the title of songs, movies, and posters. It can be seen on pillows and on people -- in the form of tattoos on arms, legs, necks, feet, and other places. And now, for many many years, you'll be able to read it on our gravestone.