Monday, October 12, 2009

Connected In Stone

Mom sits in front of George Brown's grave in Wellfleet like she’s a model on The Price Is Right and its an item in the showcase. If you look close you can read the inscription, George Brown died on July 28, 1767 in ye 52 year of his age.

Perched on the top of the curved headstone is an angel face with an hourglass above his head, a few sprouts of wheat.

Mom’s face is strong and bare like a tall tree in winter. If you didn't know her, if you didn’t look close enough at the dates, you'd be sure that she and George knew one another, were family, that a piece of her heart is buried right there beneath her. And in some ways that's true. We are forever tied.

I suppose it started decades ago. When my sister, Maria, went to that very same stone and made an etching of the angel. There are pictures from that day, too. It was gray and overcast. My niece, Rachael, stands beside Maria, a little over 3 she wears a bikini bathing suit, knee socks and sandals while everyone else is dressed in sweatshirts with the hoods pulled up. Maria made a lot of rubbings that day, but she gave me the angel from George Brown’s grave. It was quite a while ago. I was married to my first husband and I remember her saying, “Isn’t it beautiful? I love it! You should put it on the wall.”

I kept it in a folder thinking I need to find just the right frame for this and then it got put away, the marriage ended. I moved. Got remarried. Had kids.

Maria died.

We had an idea of what we wanted for the stone. We all met at Mom's house and talked about it. The angel, George Brown’s angel would be at the top.

The monument place was like a workshop, drills, tools, strewn about. As we sat down I recognized the stone facing us was for the daughter of a girl I graduated with. I sighed. It was more appropriate then crying.

“So, can you do this?” I asked showing the man the etched rubbing and our layout, it looked so different from anything there, all the glossy etched granite. “We want marble.”

The man pulled a picture of a grave stone from a white envelope. “This is the Sesame Street guy,” he said. “He’s buried in Barrytown Cemetery. He invented the Cookie Monster. His is similar to the one you want. You might want to go have a look at it.”

On the drive home, Mom and I stopped there. His stone was beautiful. It stood out from the ground with dignity and strength, purpose. On the back was a song he’d written, “I don’t want to live on the moon.” I’ll never look at the Cookie Monster the same way again.

Two weeks before Christmas Maria’s marble stone was in place as promised before the holiday. It was stunning. Looking at it, for the first time in my life I understood the phrase written in stone.

Her stone is the queen of the cemetery. Its white marble stands tall with the angel of time. The inscription was easy. Borrowed from a 1700s stone, it simply reads, “Not lost, gone before.” It helps to see those words there. In some ways I think it helps us not to feel so lost ourselves.

This week is lonely. Mom is on vacation in Wellfleet. She is planting bulbs on George Brown's grave. -Sabra

1 comment:

  1. I planted the bulbs, daffadils so the deer wouldn't be tempted to eat them. The soil was surprisingly soft, not like the clay we are used to, and sandy and pleasant to dig in. The holes were made, the bulbs buried. And to finish it off, a small pumpkin was placed in front. From the main highway Route 6 the pumpkin stood out in the colorless graveyard. I can only imagine what the flowers will look like. Rest in peace Mr. Brown. Rest in peace Ria.