The Annual Meeting

Today was the AFTBOTGOOGD annual meeting. Many years ago I shared the story of the association in a blog post, but I'm going to share it again.

I come from a family that doesn't do a lot of cemetery visiting and decorating. This isn't to imply in any way that we don't remember our forebears. Far from it: Scarcely a visit goes by that my sister or I don't quote a parent, an aunt, or another relative, now long gone. We just aren't big cemetery goers. But Bonnie and I do go faithfully each year shortly before Christmas.

Many years ago, right after Sherry had read Gone With The Wind and was a young teen who hadn't entered the obnoxious phase yet, when Bonnie and I returned from a cemetery visit, my daughter inquired with a twinkle, "Was this connected with the Association For The Beautification Of The Graves Of Our Glorious Dead?" And the name stuck. We remember our dead fondly, but that doesn't mean we're reverent.

This morning before work, Joe and I were going over the calendar for the week. I mean, there's a lot going on. And the man means well, he really does, and he tries. But sometimes . . . . Like this morning, he piped up, "Right. And today's the meeting of the Grateful Dead?"

It was. In a manner of speaking. And it was a nicer day than it has been in the past few years.

First stop was to our uncle's grave, pictured above. We did a pretty good job of placing the spray, we thought. And shared fond memories of our uncle and aunt before heading around the roadway to our own parents. We didn't get as good a placement on this one. But in our defense, the stone is much shorter than the uncle's, and we're not as agile as we used to be.

Now there's a plot for an extended family located about halfway between "our" two stones. They aren't "our" people,  but we've sort of adopted them because they are are big-time grave decorators. I mean, major. Lavish. They caught our eye some years ago, and they've never waivered in their devotion. So, it being a nice day and the ground dry and all, we went over to see what they had going on this year.

This is the stone on the right. This year there's a nice little Christmas tree. The terra cotta slate with the painted flowers flowers is new. The angel's been there for a few years. The piece atop the stone used to be on the ground where the floral painting is now.

This is the stone in the center. Another sweet little tree. And a lavish grave blanket. Assorted small statuary.

And the stone on the far left, the newest one. On top there's cowboy hat holding down a flattened ziplock bag that appeared to contain a paper of some sort. We just let that be. The hat, though, had a slit in the top and we realized that it was a bank! And just then, my sister found a dime at the base of the stone. So she put it into the bank. Each of the graves also had fastened to it a small brown paper bag. We didn't investigate, but surely did speculate.

We thought we were done there, but for some reason, I checked the back of the plot and there was this  smallish white sculpture that looked quite a bit like a pair of buttocks.
We drove around and observed some other nice decorations, checking our grandparents' area, and pausing by the Chinese section, wondering why this year there were no oranges on the graves as had usually been in the past. But it was getting close to lunchtime and we'd promised each other a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese and Nova, so we headed back out, reminiscing a little more. And when we stopped for a prolonged red light, I happened to notice the license plate on the car ahead of us. 

In Pennsylvania, you see, there's a limit of seven letters or numerals on a license plate. AFTBOTGOOGD just wouldn't fit.


Janet O. said…
I love your association name! You have very interesting neighbors to your family members' graves.
How interesting to find yourself behind that license plate. Himself may be able to do something with that to create the Grateful Dead.
I really enjoy visiting ancestor graves on Memorial Day--we have so many in this little valley, it can take a good chunk of the weekend.
Barbara Anne said…
Your attitude to cemeteries mirrors ours. We seldom go visit either but do cherish those dearly departed family members but do it from afar.

Humor is a gift!

Quiltdivajulie said…
What a fun post to read and view -- Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!!! (living and not)
Nann said…
Your initialism beats the barbershop quartet guys! I like walking in old cemeteries.
LoieJ said…
We aren't so big on the cemetery plot visiting either. But as a child and teen and later, we would go to visit the cemetery where Mom's people were buried, whenever we would go to Grandma's house, and later when mom retired there. It was a 2 1/2 block walk, and kinda like going to a simple park, so it was pleasant, and not so much about reminiscing about the departed. Where I live now, they are strict about what can go on the grave site besides a stone or plaque. Just a simple vase of flowers, no artificial. I remember my cousin showing me a gravestone back at grandma's cemetery that had a bible verse, supposedly, condemning prostitutes. What was her story???