Like so many of the characters in his novels and short stories, Fitzgerald lived fast and died young. A heavy drinker, Fitzgerald suffered a fatal heart attack at age 44. Now, in his plot adjacent to St. Mary's Catholic Church, the famous American author has achieved a kind of peace that he never could attain in life.
It is fitting that the last line of The Great Gatsby ("So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past") is etched onto Fitzgerald's tombstone. The story of Fitzgerald's funeral is almost as odd as Jay Gatsby's fictional funeral. Fitzgerald never lived in Maryland. The writer's father, who chose to be buried at St. Mary's when he died, had relatives in Montgomery County that Fitzgerald visited frequently as a child. After Fitzgerald's death in 1940, his remains were shipped from Hollywood, California to Maryland. Like Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald was buried in the rain and only a small group of family and friends attended the funeral. It is also rumored that during the service, a friend of Fitzgerald's exclaimed,"The poor son of a bitch." This is a famous line from Gatsby's funeral. Fitzgerald was initially buried at the Rockville Union Cemetery. Since he was not a practicing Catholic at the time of his death, St. Mary's Church would not allow Fitzgerald to be buried alongside his father. Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda, died in a sanitarium fire in 1948 and was placed with Fitzgerald in a common grave. Finally, in 1958, Fitzgerald and Zelda's only daughter lobbied to have the bodies moved to St. Mary's Cemetery. 15 members of the Fitzgerald family can be found at St. Mary's Cemetery today.
The Rest of The Week at a Glance:
- Attended a graduate school fair at Georgetown University
- Tango danced on the second floor of the West End Library
- Went on a night walk to look at the floodlit Lincoln and World War II Memorials
- Ate pizza at Paradiso, one of the best pizzerias in Georgetown. Worth the 45 minute wait for a table. From my seat by the window, I watched passersby while savoring my "Siciliana" pizza (Eggplant, zucchini, peppers, capers, and pecorino. Yum!)