Saturday, January 19, 2008

January 19, 2008



I parked behind this today when I was out running errands, and to be honest, I've never seen such a thing before. Since taking this photograph, friends have told me they have seen this type of memorial before, but not recently, and they thought it was more prevalent in the Hispanic community.


Driving home I thought about it some more, because just recently I was talking to several people who have left their relative's graves unmarked all with the comment, "I just haven't gotten to it yet." In the case of one, I know her brother has their parents ashes in his desk drawer at work. He inherited the famliy business, and you could argue he's keeping Dad nearby to oversee the craftsmanship going on in his name, but again he tells his sister, "I haven't gotten to it, yet."


We live in a time of not expressing our mourning in excess and "get over it and move on," and I find it interesting, given conversations I've had with others this month, that a culture where "your ride is peemp," and "cars that go boom," and "trick my truck, but don't mess with my heart" that someone took the time to express their loss this way. I wonder if Moms' ashes were in the glove compartment?

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way

~~Tracy Chapman

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6 Comments:

Blogger Velvet said...

Wait...what's the one on the side of the window - someone who lived only 8 years? Do you think that is a child or a dog? Cause I'm going to get a big Sammy and Thora tattoo one of these days, and when they go, I'll put the dates under it. At least I think I am. It's on my list...along with several other things I know I'll never do like get my car detailed and go to Australia.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

You and I with the lists, Velvet. Pebbles was probably a pet. I've known several people who got a tattoo when someone they love dies: either with a picture and dates, or just something symbolic. I knew a girl in D.C. (and I won't mention names cause her Daddy was known), but she was first I knew who did that. Her Mom had died young, so she had a tiny symbol (a dove or a heart..can't remember) put in a special place. Funny thing is: she was a trainer at a gym, and the other regular guys at the gym saw it and teased her about it...this was obviously before the time that tattooing had gained in popularity. Sammy and Thora are your children and companions in life's adventures, so I understand that. What I don't understand other than procrastination is Dale's parent's ashes still being in her brother's desk drawer.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

My mother wanted us to donate her body to science and bury the rest of it in an unmarked grave. To this day I can't really understand her request. We agreed to it, but as soon as she died, my sisters and I were in agreement that we would bury her whole in a nicely marked grave in the Jewish cemetary. Were we disrespectful? All I know is that we couldn't bear to do it the way she wanted.

Beautiful post, thank you!

9:24 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Two things, Reya: I've learned the everyone handles death in their own way, and you have to accept those methods, and I also believe (and this is my belief, mind you) that despite what the dead have requested (should it go contrary to your own beliefs,) that you honor them. I did several things when my parents died, that I would not have done, if it had been my choice.

9:48 AM  
Blogger WDCD/DRFS/aka Sue said...

If you ever watch Miami Ink...you will see most of the customers are getting black/white portraits of a dead loved one...human or animal...and the deaths seem to be somewhat violent. I found it interesting however in the recent Annie Leibowitz show at the Corcoran she had death portraits of Sontag and her father. I felt that show was really about death in a many ways. Going thru my grandmother's photos I've found pictures of the gravesites of her mother and father...and it does seem to be something that was very prevalant in the 20's and 30's. Down south, people often leave trinkets and remebrances in addition to flowers at gravesites. My dad often leaves an empty Coca Cola bottle at my grandfather's grave (he loved Coke), and baseballs at my uncle's grave (he was a pitcher). As for my grandmother...we took her old wooden spools and made wreaths that we left at her grave.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Sue: I can tell you that it is still common practice. I learned from my Southern aunties that even today, family members will often do the hair and makeup of their dead--they certainly check them over before any viewing. I can remember viewings in the South still held in the parlor, but I don't believe that is still done, but...maybe.

Just recently, I did a memorial mass for a man who was a veteran, up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I had made up some flower flags for the grave after the service. When we went to the Veteran's Cemetery, I noticed many teens at the graves of those buried in this one spot (they bury by date of death there), and I was told "Those are the Iraqi dead." At first I was befuddled....we have dead people from Iraq in a Veteran's Cemetery? but quickly realized she meant young soldiers who had died in Iraq. Their friends, many of them seemingly teenagers, were out at the gravesite with bottles of drink, teddy bears, Red Sox World Series penants and were standing there talking to their friends...I guess sharing news and comments of missing them.

There is also a scene in Fried Green Tomatoes...toward the end where "Idgy"(the bee whisperer) has left a bottle of honey at Ruth's grave.

As I wrote Reya, people handle death in their own ways. I've learned that it might not correspondence with my own beliefs and behaviors, but it should be recognized and honored as their form of expression.

11:54 AM  

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