Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I swear on my grandma's grave. Or Mr. Ready's. Whichever.

Oy. Things have been un peu of a whirlwind lately. I've been horribly delinquent in posting, not to mention reading & commenting on other blogs, so forgive me, please. I have two enormous events and two huge projects to finish at work this next week, then I'm finally taking some time off, telling some choice folks to go to hell and doing whatever I want.

Last weekend was supposed to be another family girls' weekend, this time in memory of my grandma who passed away five years ago last month. Well, that got cancelled due to some family members' health issues, but since we planned on being away all weekend, my sister and I did our own little tribute. We went to this fabulous diner called Chef's in Montour Falls. It was one of my uncle's favorite places to eat. We always had breakfast there when we went to his camp on Cayuta Lake. We realized it had been 15 years since he passed away, so we went in his honor. And for the biscuits.

Please note my sister posed in front of the very suggestive sign for the Town of Dix, in which we apparently had been visiting. Please! Come again!

We then drove over to Waverly, the teeny town where my both my parents grew up. There's a great Italian market there where we picked up some goodies and to our great surprise, saw they were selling FourLoko. Yup, that evil caffeine & alcohol beverage that was banned and (allegedly) pulled from shelves in New York. Not quite sure how this place got away with three shelves' worth, but we thought it was worth it to give it a try. (Note- tasted like chewable vitamins & made our heads spin.)

We were also stymied by the cryptic message on the market's sign. Seriously- can anyone tell me what that first abbreviation means? Sh!t ham? Sheet ham? Short ham? Short ham best friends? Sheet ham boyfriends? What the hell would that mean? The visuals it brings to mind are just staggering.

We did our duty and put flowers on the graves of all our family who are buried in the little cemetery a block away from my grandma's old house. It's odd to think that most of my relatives are buried here, 90 miles from where I grew up and 45 miles from where I live now. My great-grandfather is buried here- he was the first in our family to come to the States from Ireland. Kate took me to another cemetery across town where my grandfather's parents were buried- I never even knew about the other cemetery. (She only found it because she remembered the pizza place across the street, which made me feel better about my ignorance.)

Alice, John & Genevieve Murphy
(Genevieve was my grandma)
Denis Colman Murphy
It may sound kinda morbid, but I like cemeteries. They're peaceful, quiet, and I like seeing what people thought was important enough to put on their headstones to commemorate their lives. My great-grandfather, the one mentioned above, was a marble-cutter and obviously did a great deal of work in cemeteries, so maybe that's where it came from. He carved these beautiful stone gates outside a cemetery in Towanda, PA that I have to go see in person sometime. He died very early of marble-cutters' lung- the result of having inhaled years of tiny particles of stone. My grandma, her brother and sister were orphans before they were ten years old. While sad, I love this picture of the three of them, shortly after they lost their father. They're wearing sweaters someone made for them and the girls are holding dolls that were given to them and my great-uncle John has a kitten in his arms. My grandma Genevieve named her doll Martha and had it until she died. My aunt had Martha refurbished and she's kept safely at her house now.

Anyway, so I find gravemarkers very interesting. Some are terribly sad, some are in horribly bad taste. In the cemetery in my hometown, there's a kid who died in car accident has a can of chewing tobacco engraved on his headstone. It also has a line from his favorite song. Now, usually, one chooses to quote a song lyric that is meaningful or expressive. The one on this gentleman's grave reads,"Fly high, Free Bird, Yeah." Ahem. (I had a picture of this but it appears my conscience won out and I don't have it anymore. Sorry.) My favorite headstone, however, belongs to an acquaintance of my parents who was such a foodie that he had a plate of spaghetti and meatballs engraved on the back of his marker.

There's also interesting statuary. Not the religious stuff- yeah, I get your jesuses, your virgin marys, your st. francises. It's the statues that don't seem to correlate with a saint that I find so fascinating. There's one in that cemetery in my hometown that has nautical imagery- it's a woman with a star on her head and an anchor in her hand. What does that mean?

See the anchor in her left hand?

What's the meaning of the star on her head?

I don't get this one, either. Who is this?

Is this modeled after the person who died?

There are a lot of interesting headstones in my current town of Ithaca. Mt. Olivet cemetery is a fascinating place to go. It's the final resting place of the first Irish settlers to this region.
The headstones list the county in Ireland they came from, as well as birth & death dates, which I find pretty interesting.

Mr. Casey was from County Meath
But this one headstone just needs a question mark, I think.

Are you?


  1. Wow. Those pictures are sooo cool! I think cemeteries are interesting too.

    HAHA! DIX. That's great. I hope you ladies enjoyed yourselves. With Four Loco who wouldn't be enjoying themselves?

  2. star has something to do with the Masons maybe? I like that serious mustache up there on My Murphy :{

  3. Your wee grandma is adorable.

    I need to go to Dix, yo. (I think I will look into vacation days today.)

  4. We can totally go to Dix if that's what you want.
    Heh heh.