Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gravestones-Fact, Fiction, or Somewhere In Between?

A couple months ago when my mom was visiting with her father and aunt they took a trip to the cemetery. Specifically, it is the cemetery where my grandfather and his sister plan on being buried. Her husband is already buried there, so there is a space next to him for her when the time comes.

Anyway, the purpose of the trip was not to search out relatives, but for my grandfather to check on his grave sight. He wants to make sure all of the information is correct and placed as it should be. You see, he already has his name engraved with his birth date and a photo placed.

So while my grandfather was checking on all of this, his sister (my mom's aunt) was walking around looking at all of the graves of people she knew. While Auntie was doing this apparently she was making comments such as, "This person's name is spelled wrong.", "That date isn't right.", "This information is wrong.", and finally "Why don't people make sure their information is recorded right before they die?" Like her brother, my grandfather, was doing at that very moment.

All of this got me thinking about the various discussions I've participated in about gravestones being primary or secondary information. This has led me to the brilliant conclusion of... wait for it.... it depends. Most of the time we do not know who put the information on the gravestone, so it has to be considered secondary information. However, in my grandfather's case, aside from an end date, the information is primary. He has made sure his name is spelled correctly, his birthdate is correct, and his photo is place on his sight. How many other people have done this I wonder? Occasionally I see grave sights set up this way, but not many.

I thought about this situation further and realized that descendants a 100 years from now will not know he went to these lengths. I of course am aware of it, and eventually my children will be (cause I'll tell them) but will they remember? Will my children tell their children, etc.? In a 100 years will this information still be considered primary? Probably not. Unless the future generations stumble across this blog, or I write about it in a family history.

Yet another reason to record your family history and your own stories/experiences. Or else some day, somebody you once knew, will look at your gravestone and say, "That's not right!"

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