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  • Writer's pictureNancy Rogers

What is she doing?

I'm pretty sure that most of you aren't as obsessed with cemeteries as I am, but even if you aren't, you should find the message contained within this memorial stone interesting.

To begin with, is the figure an angel or Mother Mary or the deceased? Well, she doesn't have wings or a halo, so she probably isn't a holy figure. That leaves the deceased, but I'm guessing that's definitely not her. So we don't know, although I think she's an angel or an assistant Holy Ghost.

Even though we're not certain who the figure is, we can tell that she is sending a message to passersby.

Notice below--In her left hand, the figure is holding a spray of Easter Lilies, the flower that represents purity.

In her right hand, she is holding a single lily. So what does it mean?

It represents the reality that the deceased woman once belonged to a family, a community--and now, she is separated from them, and has been intentionally turned away from the familiar. It's pretty sad if you think about it.

Also note the damage to the statue. It looks like entire sections of the statue's surface have fallen away. The grave dates to 1907, so it's been braving the weather for more than a 100 years. There is a busy set of railroad tracks nearby, too, so part of the damage is probably chemicals in the air.

Visit a cemetery and find the oldest part of it. When you factor in vandalism, falling trees and dirty air, we are seeing the last of these old headstones. Cemeteries are changing. Some new cemeteries allow headstones that have motion-activated sensors that automatically play music or give a short eulogy as you pass by. Most headstones now are are required to be parallel to the ground so that lawn mowers can speed over them without even slowing down.

And of course, the greatest threat to cemeteries is the trend toward cremation. These days, fifty-percent or more deceased people end up in funeral vases and shoeboxes, rather than beneath a finely-carved memorial stone. Many years ago I had a friend back in Connecticut, who forgot that she had her mother's ashes in the back of her car until she cleaned out the trunk to sell the car. The family wasn't close; no telling what happened to the ashes.

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