Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Child's Grave, Maplewood Cemetery, Durham NC

Tombstone Tuesday

While we stroll through historic cemeteries, looking for lost treasures of symbols and stones, we often forget to spend a lot of time in the more modern sections of these amazing places.

At Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, NC I had the pleasure of spotting a beautiful memorial. Do you see the marker in the photo? It's hardly noticeable. But look at everything else! Besides the inviting chair, if you could zoom in you'd see a stone that says, "mama's garden;" you can see bird feeders, flowers, and a little bird bath with 2 rubber duckies. It's an amazing celebration of life and a beautiful place to sit, reflect, and most importantly, remember. What is a cemetery if not a place for these types of activities?

If we look to the beginnings of Rural/Garden Cemeteries, we see a shift in how we as citizens of the world began to view death. Gone were the days of fearing our demise, in the 1860s and beyond we began to romanticize death! As that shifted, we began to celebrate life! Now, in the modern era, many cemetery observers admire the funeral goods left behind. Often, at a child's grave you'll see their favorite toy car or GI Joe man. At Mama's Garden, we probably see the things that Mama, in this case, Lena Dee Armstrong Howerton, cherished. These funeral goods give us a sneak peak into not the death and sadness of the family, but of the life of Ms Howerton. It gives the family peace of mind that the Ms Howerton's favorites of life surround her... and when they come to remember and reflect, they are surrounded by the beauty that surrounded their loved one.

So remember to visit the newer sections of cemeteries. Life is around every corner!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Symbolism Sunday

Just to mark your calendars, if you're in the Raleigh area this Saturday, May 23 and would like to go on a Monument Art and Symbolism tour at Historic Oakwood Cemetery, be sure to call the cemetery office and reserve your spot this week. The tour is from 3-5pm. Be sure to bring water! The Oakwood Cemetery office phone number is 919 832 6077.

Historic Oakwood Cemetery was founded in 1869 and is the permanent home to many of Raleigh's famous citizens, but it's much more then that. It's also the final beautiful resting place to average joe's and jane's, too! There's still over 200 years of burial space left. So come along on my tour, learn a lot about cemetery symbols AND pick your final resting place! :-)

To start our week off right, I've included a favorite cemetery symbol from a marker at Oakwood Cemetery. It's a simple one, but can mean 2 different things.

The photo is of a grave with 2 hands shaking. It can symbolize a hello or good bye, which makes sense, right, at a grave? The deceased is saying farewell to us, the living, as they depart on their next journey; or is saying hello to those they are greeting on the other side. But if you look closer at the cuffs on each of the hands, the meaning changes. In this example, the cuffs of one of the hands (on the left) is a frilly female cuff. The cuff on the right hand is more of a traditional suit or male cuff. This symbolizes that the deceased was married! Just like how in more modern sections of the cemetery we will see interlocking wedding rings to symbolize marriage, in the older part of Oakwood, earlier Americans also felt it was important to share the same information; they just used a different symbol!

So...enough with my cemetery symbols...don't forget to sign up for my tour! Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Statuary Saturday and Graveyard DOGS?!

While visiting Maplewood Cemetery in Durham NC working on a findagrave.com request with my folks, I stumbled across a GEM of a cemetery. After fulfilling the requests, we kept driving through this cemetery, which never seemed to end!

I'm a big fan off surrogate mourners, what I call statues of grieving women that stand as beautiful monuments to the dead. They are there to mourn for the loved one when the family isn't. Maplewood had FINE examples of surrogate mourners, as you can see in the post. At the plot for Julian Carr (a shout out to all you fine residents of Carrboro, NC) there were 3 beautiful statues. One was an angel kneeling, and on the back of her wings were 2 beautiful poems. I'll go back and transcribe them for all of you soon.

Julian Carr, October 12, 1845-April 29, 1924, was an industrialist and philanthropist from North Carolina. He also served as a Private in the Confederate States of America. Instrumental in the founding of Duke University, the town of Carrboro was named in his honor after agreeing to extend electricity to what was then known as West End. He and his family lay in eternal rest at Maplewood Cemetery. (source: Wikipedia)

While driving through this cemetery, I thought I caught a glimpse of a statue of a dog (which I have seen before at Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, AL). I looked closer and realized that there were 4 DOGS (not graveyard rabbits) laying in the shade... they took off..and began to explore on their own!

At Maplewood Cemetery, it's somehow soothing to know that these surrogate mourners are forever present at this grave. Be on the look out for new posts for tombstone Tuesday... I have some good shots of the grave of Washington Duke and others! Enjoy your weekend! Thanks to my mom and dad for exploring with me!