Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Two Old Ladies

In the past two days, I've buried two women.
Each of them was ninety-six years young upon their deaths. These women lived in different towns at least an hours drive from each other. Both women had spent their entire lives in their home towns. 

I thought about the lives that they have lived. Having lived through the second world war, watching the invasion of the automobile in our world and overall a completely different world from where they came evolve around them. I thought of the towns where they lived their lives and how rural they are and how remote they must have been as these young girls went to grammar school. Even today one of them was down a narrow, gravel road over hills and curves. Poor land for farming but beautiful beyond words.

Something else these two women had in common was the fact that almost 60 years ago, they and their husbands purchased their cemetery plots and headstones. Both had chosen a large stone with room to share with their husbands. And it was common in that time to put the  year of birth and leave the death year blank to indicate they are still living. However, at that time, no one would think that they would ever live to be so old. The average life expectancy was only 54. They would have been around 40 when these stones were purchased. They thought nothing of engraving a "19__" for the death dates. Who would ever think that they would see the turn of the century back then?

One chose to have brass plaques placed over the dates and new dates placed on those. The other chose to have the stone filled with a resin and re-engraved.

The other thing that struck me about these two women was their commitment they made to their husbands. Yes, they had been together 20 years at the point of purchasing the stones. But then to live for another 50+ years together and still wish to be buried next to him. I wondered how many people today would be willing to make such a commitment. Have we become to complacent? Does marriage mean what it used to? Or did our grandparents just suffer through because it was expected of them. Something tells me that it is the later.
What do you think?


MorningAJ said...

I suspect that, particularly for women, there were few options except to remain married. So they tried harder, or they put up with whatever life threw at them.

I used to say that I could never imagine staying with anyone that long, but that was before I met K. Now I regret that we're not likely to live long enough to have that sort of time together. (Unless we both make it to 96, of course :) )

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i think a lot of people wasted their lives staying with the wrong people because it was the thing to do. great post!

Jim said...

I like the things you think about Stew. You are so well-grounded.
These two ladies were very similar in a number of ways.
When my mother died 6 years ago, my father had his name and birth put on the tombstone as well with a 'blank' for his date of death. I think it is safe to say it will be in the 20...'s !!! But hey, he has fooled us up to know!!

Stew Adams said...

My grandmother lived to 97, married 4 times then lived the remaining 30 years alone. In her defense, two died on her.

Stew Adams said...

I think some of these guys don't know they are supposed to die. They just keep going.


How wonderful this post is today......pretty pics and prose to go with.

John Gray said...

Jones miller said it all for me
You write very well