Gravecrawl.

One thing you should know about me, if you don’t already (as if there was anyone left in the world who didn’t know), is that I am an unrepentant nerd.

I have decided that one of my epic wins for SuperBetter will be participating in Project Bread’s Walk For Hunger. This is an annual event to raise money and aware to fight poverty and hunger in the greater Boston area. While it’s not necessary to walk the full circuit, I intend to. The “circuit” to which I am referring is a 20-mile loop from Boston Common along the southern portion of the Emerald Necklace out to the western suburbs past Boston College then back up across the Charles River and along the river’s northern shore through Cambridge before returning to the Common.

Did you catch that? I, Little Miss My-Bum-Never-Leaves-My-Desk-Chair, will be walking 20 miles on May 6th. I am doing this as a team effort with some of my coworkers – at the moment, there are only three of us signed up but we’re blackmailing recruiting others to join us. Speaking of which, please consider sponsoring me!

I am in training to be able to survive this venture with all my toes and ankles intact. To that end, I wandered out of my house this past Sunday with vague plans to “go for a walk.” I discovered a boardwalk along a tributary of the Mystic River which I’d had no idea existed (the boardwalk, that is, not the river) and spent a happy interval meandering from side to side of the path to admire the various leafless shrubs and mud. [I enjoy Mud Season greatly as it’s the only time of the year I can be outside without feeling like I’m going to die by freezing to death, sunstroke or asthmatic asphyxiation.]

The boardwalk came to an end by an old graveyard. I’ve passed this graveyard several times before but I’ve always before been on my way to someplace. Last Sunday, however, I had Nowhere In Particular to be, so I gave into my base urges and fluttered across the street and down amongst the tombstones.

I am a pathological historian. Like any individual with an overactive imagination who has spent the majority of her years memorizing hieroglyphics, exchanging notes in class written in Latin, constructing sugar cube ziggurats, or wearing chainmaile headdresses (they’re called chaplets!) while doing homework, I have an inordinate fondness for dead people and an unending fascination with the people who arranged for the grave markers.

[My love of graveyards sometimes borders on obsession. Did you know that there is a tombstone in the graveyard in the Boston Common dedicated to a sixteen-year-old Chinese sailor who was buried at sea? His master erected the headstone as a memorial upon returning home to Boston. I have dreamed up multiple life stories for that young man and his obvious rapport with his captain. Fascinating!]

Anywho.

Did the rest of them move away?

There are definitely still some Trants in the area, then, festive ones!

Do these people never die? Or do they not believe in cognomens?

Given the spacing, there were two or three more members expected to join the plot. I wonder where they went to. Married? Enlisted? Transferred out of state?

Note the picture of Madonna and Child. It was taped on, extremely faded but looked like paper. I don't know that I'd believe it's been there longer than two years. But in an old part of the graveyard...

An entire society raised a stone for one member? How ponderous a name is Conference! Or was the entire group lost in an accident during a conference about St. Cecilia?

Italian immigrants, likely only in the area a few years. There were no other such tombstones. Where did the parents go after their loss?

Graveyards are so serene, so beautiful, and display so very many different tastes.

Graveyards are for the living. As are playgrounds. I can only imagine that the dead are comforted by the sounds of happy children and the peaceful strolls parents take around the mayhem.

There was clearly no consensus on Mary's birth year but I wonder about the theories. Was she elderly when she passed? Likely born between 1848 and 1889, given the placement. Did she marry into the family and no one knew her age?

For a moment I wondered if I was having a flashback to my 2001 trip to Ireland. Simply beautiful.

The artificial flower arrangement was not terribly faded though the date of departure fell in the 1980s. Have I met this relative who is focused on floral longevity? Did they choose an artificial display because they live far away and cannot come back often to refresh it?

Perpetual care tombstones are utterly baffling to me. I always have to double-check the dates.

Clearly a close-knit family, long in the area, determined to stay together. The obvious age differences in the stone are incredible, from the lichen and erosion around the patriarch's name to the depth and clarity of Francis and Mary, shows really fascinating details about changing stone carving norms. And see how John's death was later than that of Ellen? The carving shows his name was added when his wife's was. He didn't expect Ellen to pass before he did, possibly he didn't even expect her to be on this stone. An unmarried sister?

No caring family remain here to clear the encroaching dirt and grass. My fingertips were insufficient.

Dead trees, live birds, two families united as one.

Was this unique marker a family decision or an individual one? Does the family have an affinity for or connection to pink marble (which comes from Tennessee or Georgia)? It's been there long enough for the plate to oxidize but there are unfaded artificial flowers. When was the stone placed and how much did it cost in the currency of the time? Why unworked?

The trees bear row nameplates. The names are all Latin, all Popes.

Honestly, to me it looks kind of silly but I imagine that it would be a great help if I were looking for an ancestral plot in particular.

This crooked stone has rolled or been tipped upside down and likely tilted away from its rightful plot. The dirt around it shows it's been like that for some time. Maintenance of the graveyard must be limited and the family must not visit.

Aha, mystery solved. Vampires and/or zombies have clearly taken over the maintenance shed. This is obviously their way in and out of the pit basement of the little building.

What a delightful outing!!

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One thought on “Gravecrawl.

  1. while I do so enjoy a graveyard stroll methinks you take after the Aunt Lydia. She is truly a lover of the cemetery. I do, however, have a feeling that for the time being she has had to stop the visitations in deference to child rearing. Enjoy working up to the walk ahead of you. I sure hope you get some more walkers!! Are you each taking a piece of it or are you going to attempt all walking the entire 20 miles?

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