RuBisCO_disco

Drawings, writings and the search for the sex appeal quark

Grave messages

with 4 comments

Yet again, I have found my blog devoid of an entry for more than a month. I’ll try to make this at least semi-regular again and mean it this time. How have I been doing? I have been busy with work, which will probably soon spill into this blog in one or two articles coming soon. Anyways, here’s a belated halloween-themed article. Hope you like it.

– o –

Today I got to visit the cemetery with my Aunt’s family. There wasn’t much to say about the trip, really. We only came to visit one gravestone (Somebody I did not know personally from her husband’s – my Uncle’s – side of the family). The trip was long, and the weather was hot and humid, but I enjoyed the long walk towards the gravestone, which was a the far end of the cemetery. Only a few birds were out (Lanius cristatus and Gerygone sulphurea).

I had to think up of a way to entertain myself during our brief stay, so while the cousins were off to the long queue of the drinks stand, I was busy looking at the gravestones in the field. I got the idea from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, actually. He used to introduce the ghosts in the story by their year of birth and death, and their epitaph. I listed down a few notable gravestones.

While most of tombstones had run-of-the-mill boring epitaphs that said things like “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15) and “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” (Psalm 23), some really did try with their own quotes and managed to be mildly interesting.

For example, one went:

Diosdado V. Todifa
January 23, 1993 – September 9, 1996
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven – Ecclesates 3:1

Another was a stone which I had read only as we were going, and so I couldn’t list down its details. It’s epitaph went:

“Parting is all we know of heaven”

This was from a poem by Emily Dickinson. The full verse was as follows:

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

I was quite pleased that somebody out there who buried the person (or persons, since sometimes one slot contained te remains of more than one person) had expressed his grief and gratitude in the form of a poem. The next piece showed that sometimes even the dead can still inspire the living. Then there was this gravestone which I am going to crudely draw here:

I took the surname as an omen to compel me to finally post something in this blog after like, 48 years.

A break for levity perhaps? This one apparently transforms a seemingly inconsequential grammatical error into a disastrous event.

Otto Hyronimus Kaesbauer
August 27, 1929 – March 27, 1995
In loving memory OF: Wife, Children, Sisters and Brother
(emphasis mine)

What surprised me with the whole gravewatching adventure was just how many people left food on their graves. Like the condensation nuclei of future tribal religions, these offerings were lovingly given, presumably every year, for the ethereal consumption by the spirit of the dead, or possibly just to make them happy. This in itself isn’t totally bizzare, but as a small town cemetery guy, I did not expect how many and how much they were willing to give. Back in our island, the best example I could find was that our neighbor’s tomb always had a bottle of Royal orange soda every All-Souls-Day, but here were just some of the many food items left at gravestones:

Bolos:
______ Sr. 1925 – 1995 and
____sencia 1923 – 2005 (their names were obscured by the flowers)
Man and woman may only enter paradise hand in hand
Food: Shakeys potato slices and a glass of coke

That was one of the more posh ones. Then, we consider the hefty

Gonzalo B. Ferco
January 6, 1918 – May 18, 1992
(epitaph obscured)
Food: Bread Pan, 1 large bowl of bihon, 1 slice of cake, and 2 burger buns.

But the absolute winner of the Most Food For A Dead Person Award went to a grave that not only takes the cake, but had raided the entire kitchen as well for this whole competition:

Gaspar P. Salvadora Jr.: January 6, 1964 – January 1, 2000
Glenda P. Salvadora: December 27, 1964 – January 1, 2000
Perish no more because of love

The food that was left in their grave are as follows: 1 glass of coke (I assume they will have to share), a handful of squash seeds (the ones you eat butong pakwan style), 1 ham sandwich, 2 slices of adobo, 1 longganiza, 1 shrimp, 1 large fried fish, 1 piece of what seemed to be a chicken nugget, about 3 cups of rice, 1 ice buko, 4 bananas, and one slice of the aforementioned cake.

I mean,… yeah… wow. It’s also interesting that the couple were born on the same year and died on the same day. And not just any old day at that, but the start of the millennium, presumably in a food-related catastrophe that had been memorialized ever since.

There really were some rather sad things to be said about some of the gravestones though. Every few places or so, you would find an unkempt one which was obviously alone and unvisited. One called out with its own epitaph.

Engr. Daniel De Leon: January 3, 1908 – February 12, 1974
Rosalinda J. De Leon: February 22, 1912 – December 26, 1992
Olivia J. De Leon : October 14, 1930 – July 31, 2006
You will be loved always and forever

It looked abandoned. I liked it because it was lonely, and sometimes you have to be.

It’s really quite interesting how a trip to the cemetery, the traditional domain of the dead, could teach us so much about the human condition. How Engineer Daniel De Leon clings to his earthly title even to his grave, how one’s secure knowledge of being forever loved becomes betrayed, how we find omens in even the most mundane, and how we hold on to memories with offerings of useless things. Death, perhaps, is the ultimate teacher.

I didn’t expect my trip to the cemetery to amount to much, but it was unexpectedly productive, and I was sad to have had to go so soon. I might have mentioned earlier that I was looking at the gravestones on the way back home, so I listed them down, but did not have time to write down their names and lives. I think I’ll sign off with the last memorable nameless epitaph before I was out of the cemetery. It went:

That which is beautiful never leaves us, but becomes part of our lives forever

And so another day becomes part of my life.

________

PS

Ok, I may have lied a bit for dramatic purposes. While the text on the last epitaph was true, that wasn’t the last memorable epitaph for that day, but another one, who, in my fleeting glance, managed to convey the following message:

Mama, Papa, dyan lang sa tabi
Bakit ba?

I kid you not.

– o –

This post was brought to you by death

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Written by rubiscodisco

November 2, 2012 at 12:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. hahaha, nice, kevs.. :D i actually laughed out loud sa “in loving memory OF” og kato salvadora parts.. XD

    odina

    November 2, 2012 at 8:35 am

  2. What about using blood as art?

    segmation

    November 3, 2012 at 12:58 am


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