Monday, December 8, 2014

Grave Goods ~ Are they still being used?

We all have been to funerals. It's a part of life. We see the flowers arranged the casket and think nothing of it. Then we look at the coffin itself. With the body, there are other items. Photos, a Bible, a rosary, a special book, 2 quarters to pay the Ferryman, stuffed animals, things that were important to the deceased. People do it as their way to pay homage to their loved one. My younger cousin loved collecting autographs, so my brother gave him an autographed football card.

The earliest known burials were the Neanderthals who would add flowers and later would place baron and Aurochs' bones, tools and ochre pigment. Then we've all seen the elaborate offerings left in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs ~~ especially King Tut. There is the solid gold sarcophagus, food, water, statues, horses, mummified cats that guard the underworld, even the Pharaohs' favorite slave are buried so they can care for his needs on the other side as well as all the runes to plead with the gods to allow the Pharaoh into their midst. Images of Osirus ~ the Gold of the Underworld who is depicted as a man with a jackals' face. But does that still happen today? I can't say how it is done around the world, but in rural Pennsylvania, it is alive and well.

My younger cousin recently died and his funeral was Saturday. His coffin had so many gifts, it almost covered him. I gave him a yellow rose that I give everyone as well as a locket engraved with "You Are my sunshine." My son and I put in quarters for him. It's a very old tradition, but we follow those old ways. The younger the person who passes to the afterlife, the more goods are placed with him. I've seen everything from bottles of beer to a rolled joint and everything in between.

I believe we will still have our precious possessions after we leave this earth. My dogs and cats who have left will meet me when I finally cross the veil from the torture and pain into a life of endless summer. We'll be reunited with our loved ones. My grandparents and cousins will be there when Adonis leads me home. I'm not sure many others believe that today, but In the Summerland, we will want photos of the ones we've lost, until we're reunited. The other items and they keep us going until we are reunited with those we love.

Not only people receive grave goods. Animals that are particularly loved also receive them. I buried my dogs with a photo of their family right in front of their faces, their blankets, favorite toys, even a food and water dish, so they will never want while they wait for me to join them.

This is a work in progress and is copywrited to me. Please do not take the information as it is for a commissioned piece. Thank you! I will appreciate any of your stories of burials you've attended where grave goods are added and what they are,.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Just a cousin??

The past week and a half has been a total nightmare for my family and myself. I keep trying to wake up from it, but nothing works. I have to accept it's my new reality. A reality where my 37-year old cousin Bobby is no longer with us. Writing that sentence is impossible to do, but I managed it somehow. I loved him with all my heart and soul. We were 9 years apart, but that never mattered.

I received a condolence call a couple days after his mother was strong enough to turn the machines off and let his broken body release his soul. Keeping him on it would be cruel. He'd never laugh, smile, talk, walk or even acknowledge we were there. A single car accident took that away. I hope, if the day comes where I'm in that bed, my husband will be so kind to me.

Growing up, I didn't know that everyone's best friends were their cousins. I didn't care that I didn't have anyone in the neighborhood to play with because I had my cousins. We were always together. Our entire family was always together. Except for my dad's one week of vacation where it was my parents, brother and I going somewhere, that truck was filled with three generations of our family going to Niagara Falls, a county fair, amusement parks or wherever we happened to go. To us, that was normal, we honestly didn't know everyone didn't live the same way. We always received the same gifts for Christmas, went the same places, did the same things. It was how we were raised.

When we were almost 3, my brother joined the gang and he was just another person to be with. My aunt had a second family, two more girls and a boy (our Bobby) when we were 9. I babysat the three of them for a few years, then they pulled away because of outside problems. That is my biggest regret to this day ~~ I didn't get to have the years with them like I did my other two cousins.

As adults, the world runs different and after my grandma and grandpa left the world, the family wasn't as close. When my great aunt and uncle left us, it fractured the family. Weeks, months would go by and I wouldn't see them or even know where they were. It broke my heart, but I knew deep down if I needed them, a phone call would get them here.

March 3, 2006, our world was destroyed when the first born into the next generation was killed in a car wreck on his way to school. Michael was only 17. That horror brought us back together where we knew where we needed to be and it stayed that way for many more years. Then slowly life pulled us apart again, until this Thanksgiving when another one~car accident took another of us. We piled in three cars and drove to Ohio to be there for a final good bye and to let him know we were never really apart and never would be. I had my hand on his chest for the final heartbeat, holding his sister. I'll never get over it. None of us will.

It's like a part of my body has been cut out. There's a piece missing and I can't get it back. I walk around in a daze, not really getting anything done and not caring. Who cares that the dishes aren't done? Bobby is gone. I thought letting my thoughts flow would help let some of the pain go away. I'm not sure typing and crying is what I need, but it's what I have to do. Writing has always been my way of coping.

Back to the call. I'm sure she meant well, but it was like a punch in the gut when she said that offensive sentence, "Well, you're lucky, he was ONLY your cousin." I pity her and those like her who don't have a family they can call on and have on your doorstep in minutes. Ones that would drop everything and come to your side. Even when we don't see each other daily or even weekly, I still know one call will bring an army to my door that nothing can break. Yes, they are my cousins, but there is no "JUST" about them. Family is family.

Tomorrow is our final chance to see that beloved face and say our "Until we meet against." My yellow rose, a locket and two quarters to pay the Ferryman are with him from my son and myself. We follow the old ways. He also has his Bible and so many photos, friends, awards. The funeral home is filled with photos of him. He was so full of life! He loved fishing, softball, pool, darts, collecting autographs, working with wood (he was a master carver) and his Ford Mustang. I also have a Ford Mustang and he was always laughing that we'd race and his would beat my Betty Lou. We never had a chance to have that race. My body is breaking and I can't do the things I use to. I'm sure he'll be waiting for me and we'll race when I get to the Summerlands.

Until we meet again, Bobby, I'll love you forever and a day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Another light has left the world

My cousin Bobby was a decade younger than me when he had a car accident the day before Thanksgiving. He was lifeflighted into Ohio, but it was too late. He had surgery to relieve the swelling in his brain, but it didn't work. He was on life support for the legally required time, even though we knew there was no hope.

Our entire family drove to the hospital on Saturday morning to say good bye. Most of us were in the room when his heart stopped beating. The change was immediate. He no longer looked like himself, his soul was free from a broken body. He is now at peace and the demons that he battled his entire adult life are gone. He is free.

We're waiting for the State to release him, so he can come home and he put to final rest.

My precious cousin, until we meet again, I will love you forever and a day.