Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Old Graveyard, Placentia - click to enbiggen.

Dateline: Fredericton, New Brunswick.

A long day's driving from the ferry in Sydney, Cape Breton to Fredericton, New Brunswick this evening to the accompaniment of Grandgirl's playlists and mine, some of which we have melded into a joint list. I got her hooked on Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone at an early age and she got me hooked on Dido, Cold Play, Adele and Train. We call ourselves the backup singers these unfortunate stars have missed out on as we add our special savour to the vocals. Makes the time fly.

Graveyards are another thing our family "does", I was hooked on them at a young age by my father and I in turn got my daughters addicted and now Grandgirl is equally enthralled. The headstone above is from the old Placentia graveyard we traversed yesterday.

I was struck first by all the drownings listed, these were obviously seafaring people. And I also can't imagine the grief of the widow, when having lost her husband, leaving her with a one month old baby, she then loses the baby six months later when he was seven months old. And then four more sons predeceased her - two together in drowning.

The often extremely sad lives of those who went before us depicted on these lonely headstones in far flung graveyards can only be surmised upon (the dashes between the dates). I imagine Mary Kelly's fortitude may have come from the strong religious beliefs of those bygone days: that one day she would be re-united with all she had lost.


  1. I do graveyards too, especially to see memorials like this that touch me to the bone. I wonder at so much sadness and so much faith to keep going. How else did people live with the burden? Luckily for them, it was acceptable to have such a strong believe in the ways of God at that time. We would call that naive nowadays.

  2. I enjoy a tramp through very old graveyards, but the modern ones are a total turn off. Scatter me to the four winds please!

  3. Much history in graveyards, but wonder if there will be as much in the future since so many opt out for other options.

    My son and I did the shared musical listening, too, with him enjoying my jazz and my appreciating some of his rock. Nina Simone caught my ear with a haunting "Baltimore, My Baltimore" -- not sure if that's the actual title or just the opening verse, as haven't been able to find it since my old tape no longer plays.

  4. If you're in Freddy today, try to spend a few minutes in the Loyalist Cemetery in the downtown. It's a similar important lesson in history. vp

  5. I got hooked to cemeteries in my bachelor days due to a lack of places to meet my girl friend quietly and undisturbed. That particular cemetery was originally for the English colonials and you could read a history of families on the head stones. My GF and I would speculate about all that must have happened when a series of headstones of the same family would appear. A fascinating start to study colonial family life subsequently. There are two WWII cemeteries in Pune that are magnificent too and the best that I have ever seen is the one at Kohima with the famous message - "When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
    For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

  6. Used to go round cemeteries with my Dad - interesting historical moments to be uncovered.
    The one in your picture reminds me of an iPad or Kindle or some kind of tablet reader - from the shape and the amount of text on it - like a long sad story briefly told.

  7. The Cruel Sea eh? It can be so beautiful but so deadly.

    I used to enjoy a wander around the graveyards attached to old, old churches back in Yorkshire - municipal cemeteries not so much though.

  8. I'm always enticed by graveyards too, but they leave me frustrated. The details on the stones often suggest traumatic and desperate lives but the full story can only be guessed at. I'd love to know more.

  9. I'm fond of graveyards too, as places to reflect on what's been lost and what we still have. Nick's comment strikes a chord: paring lives down to names and dates leaves me wishing for more, for something to connect with. We're all so much, then we're hardly anything at all.

  10. Nora:
    I honestly don't know how so many tragedies in one family were borne!
    I don't even mind the modern, some can be very sad too, I remember taking a tour of one with a fairly new friend who lived in the area and I was astonished at the number of suicides.
    Not familiar with that particular NS song and couldn't locate on Itunes.
    We had no time, sounds interesting!
    Oh they look very interesting, one day maybe!
    Very interesting observation on the photo, yes it does!
    All graveyards get to me!
    I use my imagination to fill in the dashes and one of my daughters made friends with one grave and would talk to the woman buried there.

    "We're all so much, then we're hardly anything at all."

    I love that line!



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