Friday, August 13, 2010

A Grave Situation

 It's been over a year since my grandmother died (read the post about her here). Her grave finally has a gravestone! It seemed a bit... well, I'm not sure what the word would be. I mean, she was buried in a tote bag for goodness sakes. I kept bugging my mother about getting a nice stone, but it wasn't until this spring that inspiration struck.

We stopped over in Paris on the way to our Holy Lands Adventure. The plan had been to visit the Catacombs, but when we arrived, there was a line all the way around the block. And visitors only enter in groups of 11 or so. I figured we would be standing in line all day before we even made it to the gate. Ugh. So we wandered over to the nearest, free, macabre attraction - the Montparnasse Cemetery. We roamed for hours. I have never been in a more fascinating graveyard. This was more like a little city and filled with famous scientists', authors' and artists' "homes". There was so much variety - from the Egyptian themed grave in the Jewish sector to an ultra-modern stack of granite sticks.

As we were leaving, we realized we had to make use of our inspiration to finally get a stone for Gramma Magda! And certainly not a boring gray slab.

I would have loved to have a bear shaped sculpture as her marker, but that was a bit... expensive. My mother ordered this unusual black granite bench with an engraved bear. A good compromise. The stone looks rather lonely and bare  (and a bit dirty!) without foliage and flowers. I thought it might be nice to make some cement stepping stones with the kids' handprints too. In our graveyards we often put vases of flowers. But in Paris, they have whole shrines erected. There was a grave for a 12 year-old Chinese boy  :-(  that had food in Tupperware containers, soda cans, little toys, photos, and letters. It was so sad. For the famous graves, visitors left their subway ticket stubs held down by pebbles. And on others, there were small piles of rocks. I suppose it is a way of saying, "I was here and I miss you."

A prince and a princess who died on the same day. So many stories buried here!
Guy de Maupassant (and Alex)

A very original grave!







My favorite shot. this was such a beautiful cemetery.

A stack of books!
I have always thought that you rest beneath your stone forever in peace. RIP and all that. But real estate is real estate. And if you don't keep paying the rent, well, someone else will take your spot. how creepy is that?

My grandmother shares her headstone with her mother-in-law, Jenni, her husband, Johannes, and her baby daughter, Merike. Jenni and John are actually buried somewhere on Long Island and Merike had been in a mass grave in Germany. But she was... "removed" when a large highway was built. It's nice to have them all together again in Warner, even if it is only in name.

3 comments:

  1. It's very nice, thanks for posting photos! I didn't know thaat about Merike.

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  2. Wow... I am awe struck. I've always enjoyed visiting "older" cemeteries-your post makes me want to go visit again soon. Thank you for sharing. ~Donna

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  3. As a child I lived in a small town with a rich history in early CA life... The town grave yard was one of my favorite "haunts" as it had such character. Thank you for reminding of some very fun adventures of my life.

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