Cemeteries . A Walk Into The Past. My Visit To Transfiguration Cemetery.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are approaching the end of the growing season as well as calendar year. It has long been a time for reflection. Halloween, or All Hallow Eve, has ancient origins and now begins the Christian traditions of honoring the dead. The Catholic tradition includes All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day where the departed members of our families and communities are remembered and honored.
I have always enjoyed visiting cemeteries on my travels , you learn so much about a community in these hallowed grounds. A few years ago I decided to visit all the graves in my parish cemetery, Transfiguration Cemetery. Most of my dad’s relatives are buried here and I have been visiting my grandparent’s graves since I was a young child. (The family plot was full so my dad is buried near my home in Mountain View cemetery)
Transfiguration Parish was founded by poor coal miners who immigrated from Poland at the beginning of the last century. The cemetery was established shortly thereafter. The earliest grave I found was of a young child born and buried in 1911. This child lived and died for a short time in 1912. I wonder how the loss of the child affected the parents and other family members. I imagine the sadness and grief in that isolated area on the outskirts of the town of West Hazleton on the day she was buried. And someone still places flowers on the grave over a century later. So much to reflect on in these somber grounds.
As I walked back and forth past the lines of headstones I came across so many individuals, who affected my life in some way and made me the person I am today. Some I knew and loved so well,like my aunt Mary.
Other’s I only heard about, but their live’s still affected me in so many ways. This is the Dowgala headstone, a husband and wife who had no children and ran a store in the house I grew up in before it was purchased by my parents. I never knew them but enjoyed the apple and pear trees and the beautiful flower gardens they left as their legacy. I spent a long way thinking about them, how they met, lived their lives and died the first time I came upon their grave a few year ago. Of course I thanked them for the pear trees, the apples trees are now gone, which still provides us with abundant crops of pears each year.
And I found poor Mr. Duffy. who was younger than me when he died, living back a young son. the catcher on my Litttle League team. It seems like yesterday we all stood for a prayer when he came to the game after the death of his dad. it was so sad and was my first real experience with death.
Here is my 9th grade algebra teacher, It seems like yesterday i was staring out the window in his class, it was the last of the day, waiting for the bell to ring so I could roam in the woods before dark.
And even more pleasant memories, here is Gertrude Sypeck, the owner of a corner store a few blocks from my parents house. I first visited it when my neighbor took me there and bought me some candy peeps at Easter when I was around four years old. She ran the store until her death at the ripe old age of 95 years a few years ago. What a kind and friendly soul.
I could go on for hours on my reflections walking through this cemetery where so many good folks now are at rest. Here is a link to some more photographs of the headstones of the folks, who died, young and old, many of whom touched my life in some way. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-5/nggallery/blog-photos/transfiguration-cemetery-headstones-october-31-2015
As in all cemeteries the inscriptions and markings on the headstones tell so much about the folks in the community, their lives, loves, ambitions and faith. How about this engraving of the Notre Dame mascot in a Polish cemetery?
Or this biker enthusiast.
Of course most of the engravings were of a religious nature, although not elaborate as in other cemeteries. Here is a link to some more of the engravings and marking I came across on my walk today. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-5/nggallery/blog-photos/transfiguration-cemetery-engravings-and-markings-october-31-2015
And there were, on the older graves, also some photographs of the departed. How can you not reflect on the lives of these folks after seeing their pictures, some taken in their youth and others in their old age. Here is a link to some more photographs of the images I found on some of the headstones. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-5/nggallery/blog-photos/transfiguration-cemetery-photographs-october-31-2015
It was a most reflective, and rewarding day. examining and recalling my life from the many folks who were once part of it and who are now at rest. All of us will join them someday. I would recommend all of you visit your local cemeteries and visit, and honor and respect, the lives of the family, friends and loved ones who helped make you who you are today. It leaves you with a very good feeling when you do. Here is a link to some more photographs of Transfiguration Cemetery. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-5/nggallery/blog-photos/transfiguration-cemetery-october-31-2015
No one’s death comes to pass without making some impression, and those close to the deceased inherit part of the liberated soul and become richer in their humanness.
The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.
-Lucius Annaeus Senec