Posts Tagged ‘family’

Fangman (5)

Fangman (7)

Fangman (6)

Fangman (9)

Fangman (3)

This stone reminded me of my maternal grandparents. After my grandfather retired and sold his veterinary practice, Grandma and Grandpa spent months at a time traveling across the United States in their Bluebird motor home. They too traveled across the 48 contiguous U.S. states. They would arrive to visit us in the motorhome, park it at the cul-de-sac, and sleep there rather than in a guest room or in a hotel. The horn played a few bars of “On the Road Again” as they pulled back out at the end of the visit.

My grandfather’s failing eyesight forced them to sell the Bluebird when I was a young teenager. I hope that it brought happiness to another family in its new home.

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Martin (2)

I hope that I can feel this way when I die – “life’s work well done, now comes rest.” I remember listening to my grandmother and her sisters talk about death when I was a child, and I very clearly remember my grandmother saying that when she was younger, she was afraid of death, but now she was content with the life she had lived and it wasn’t something that preyed on her mind as much. I also had the privilege of having my grandfather telling me less than 2 months before he died that he had done everything he wanted to do in his life. I know I’m not there yet in my own thinking about my mortality.

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I’m trying to get caught upon my blog posts. My apologies to my faithful readers. I’m actually participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, and it’s coming along well, but it has meant sacrificing on some other things, including making sure I get a daily post up in this blog. I’m in the home stretch and set to make the goal, but you have probably noticed that posting is infrequent and a lot of my entries are shorter.

So, onto today’s topic:
Southworth (2)

The thing that struck me about the epitaph on this stone was the flexible meaning of the word “brother” in our culture. The primary assumption I would make is that the monument was erected by the siblings of Jedediah Southworth. But there are lots of ways to be siblings – full, half, step-, or adoption. We also use “brother” as a term to indicate close emotional ties that might not be mappable to a future geneaology. Our fellow soldiers are our brothers in arms. We may decide as children to be become blood brothers. We use the term for fictive kin, for friends so close they become our chosen family.

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You don’t get to see a beautiful epitaph like this one very often. It makes me wonder who wrote it for her – it’s the kind of thing that I wish was on my grandmother’s stone. My grandmother loved doing things for other people, and the most important other people were her family. She and her sisters got together every Saturday to go shopping, and then on Sunday she would go visiting. It wasn’t until she died that I realized just how much she was the glue that held so many people together.

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I took more than look at this tombstone before I really processed what it says, and now I’m fascinated by it. Usually, tombstones like this with two names are for a husband and wife, or maybe a parent and child.  This tombstone is for two mothers – what was their relationship to one another?  Were they successively married to the same man – possibly?  Were they a mother and daughter – the age difference allows for that possibility, but one wouldn’t imagine the description “mothers” would be used?  Were they sisters or cousins or no biological relation at all that came to be called by the person (or persons) who erected this monument “mothers”?

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Reed Pilcher (6)

Major James Evelyn Pilcher
Born Adrian, Michigan
March 18, 1857
Died Savannah, Georgia
April 8, 1911
Surgeon U.S.A. 1883-1911

He endured patiently
He fought valiantly
He finished his course.

I think that most of us hope to go to our grave the way that Major Pilcher did. As his epitaph assures us, he completed his life’s work (finished his course). Assuming his epitaph is reflective of how he felt, this is not a man who died thinking “If only I had…” His epitaph asks us to take comfort in the fact that he died having done and achieved what he set out to. We should all be so lucky. I don’t know many people who can say that, but I did know one other. My paternal grandfather passed away just over five years ago this month. The last time I saw him was at Thanksgiving dinner. (I missed Christmas with him because there were storms I didn’t feel safe to drive through between where I was living and home.) Pap slept a lot and ate his meals on the living room tan sofa with a pineapple print, in front of a television that showed a selection of old westerns and detective shows. That last Thanksgiving, I had gone to sit next to him on the couch during a brief time he was awake. While we sat, a commercial for a cruise line came on tv. He surprised me by turning to me and saying “You know, Ash, I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in my life.” He listed off the things he had done, the places he had seen, and being a father and grandfather. Did he know in that moment that he had little time left? Maybe. He told me once that he never expected to live to see me graduate high school, let alone finish both college and graduate school. Maybe he just knew that it was something I needed to hear. It did give me a measure of comfort when, two months later, he passed away in his sleep. It was a conversation between just the two of us, and he gave me a precious gift when he said those words to me.

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This boulder from Arizona marks the resting place of Erma Bombeck in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio. Tonight, I’ll go to the Christmas Eve service with my mother, and when I think of Erma Bombeck, I think of Mom.

My mother read and laughed at Bombeck’s witty columns and books for as long as I can remember. Bombeck wrote about being a wife and mother with a good dose of humor, and I think my mother must have seen some of her own experiences reflected in those words. Bombeck loved her family, but she also voiced all the annoyances and difficulties while laughing at them and herself.

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Wright (3)

I don’t often stand at a grave of a non-family member that I know is only a degree or two of separation from me, but I got to do so this past month, and with a famous grave to boot. While aviator Wilbur Wright died relatively young in 1912 in a flight accident, his brother Orville lived until 1948. Early death while famous being what it is, this explains why there are things in Dayton named for Wilbur but not Orville, and one of those namesakes was Wilbur Wright School, that my grandmother and her sister attended. Orville attended the dedication ceremony for the school, and my great-grandmother had the opportunity to meet him. My grandmother doesn’t remember a lot of details about the meeting, but she has always been very proud of it.

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Keller 2

I’ve shown you this stone before but I’m showing it to you for a different reason. This man, like my grandfather, worked for the railroad (unlike my grandfather, this man died on the railroad). My grandfather doesn’t have anything about his employer, the Pennsylvania Railroad, on his stone. I am grateful that my grandfather, despitte his teh fact that the was able to work with only a 5th grade education, encouraged me to continue mine. He wanted me to go to college, and he was one of the few people who never questioned that I wanted to go to graduate school. I may not yet have the job I want, but I don’t have to do the hard manual labor that wore down his body and caused him pain not only at the time, but in the last years of his life.

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Harry Ticknor Ammon

I took this photo because one of my great-grandmother’s sisters married into the Ticknor family, and I know that families sometimes use names from the maternal line as middle names. I have photos of a Ticknor family that I think lived somewhere in northeast Ohio, and my grandmother told me that when she was very young, she remembered going to Ticknor family reunions So is this man a distant relative of some sort, or is the name coincidence? Maybe someday I’ll find out.

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