I’ve been thinking about my Great Aunt Marge. She was my maternal grandfather’s sister. She was a master gardener, an excellent photographer, and an artist of intricate ceramic items. I still have some of those figurines, and treasure them. Our family had Sunday lunch at least once a month at Aunt Marge and Uncle Harry’s house when I was a child. Aunt Marge had high standards, which helped me learn the value of lacy doilies on tables, and multiple utensils placed in the proper order aside dinner plates. They were generous and kind.
They also had two children who were still-born, a family secret I learned from my mother. Mom told us girls that Uncle Harry had each baby privately buried in Sewickley Cemetery without Aunt Marge present in unmarked graves. That seems unimaginable to me, but it was a different time. Aunt Marge and Uncle Harry never spoke of those babies, but I am certain they never forgot them, though they may have tried to do so to ease their loss. Mother’s and Father’s Days must have been difficult each year.
Mom said that she and my Grandmother had tried to locate the graves, but never found them. I never knew their names, but the story has lived on in my mind. A few weeks ago, I visited the Sewickley Cemetery website to get some information for my sister Jane’s graveside service in July. I discovered a “Find a Loved One” link. With the entry of a last name and click of my mouse, I located them and learned their names: Frederick Ralph Bole, 10/22/1917 – 10/22/1917, named for Aunt Marge’s brother (and my grandfather) Frederick, and Uncle Harry’s brother Ralph; and Margaret Bole, 4/26/1919 – 4/26/1919, named for her mother.
Knowing their names and birthdates makes them more real, gives substance to what was only a seldom mentioned family secret. It also creates a desire in me to honor and remember them in some way. I plan to get markers made with their names and place them when I am there in July as a reminder of God’s care. Jesus said, “Not one sparrow will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” “I’d never forget you—never. Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.” (Isaiah 49)
That’s good news! ~ Anne
These meditations are provided as a ministry in this time of pandemic as a ministry of St. Paul’s U. C. C.