There are plenty of topics I could cover, but since I feel like this blog is turning into a Green Lawn fest, I’ll save Chapel Stories for another day. (Incidentally, Green Lawn is our official unofficial alma mater, so it is appropriate for us to discuss it a lot, but I’ll give it a break for once. I will touch on it just a teensy bit, though.)
First of all–and I’ll keep my Green Lawn reference brief–today would have been my great-grandfather’s 121st birthday, and somehow that just boggles my mind. There is a precident for people who have lived to be even 122. To think that I might easily have been able to of met my great-grandfather in my life just kind of amazes me–particularly since I’m one of those people who has only one grandparent alive today–most of them, along with my great-grandparents, went decades before I was born.
Anyway, he’s on my list of favorite dead relatives, very high on that list, and definitely the one I’m the most obsessed with. His parents came over from Germany, he spelled his name in an unusual way, and within five years of his wife running off with the electrician, he and his brother died together in a gasoline fire. So here’s to my Grandpa Mathew, who died a little too early for me to meet him, but still deserves notice on his birthday.
In otherwise-ness, I’ve forgotten my topic. Oh, there it is. Yes, I would like to just have quick little outburst about something cemetery-related but not exactly. It’s about post-mortem photography. That’s right, folks, I took it there.
As the self-nominated “I’ll be the one who offends people and corners the market on exclaiming on the creepiness of stuff,” I’ll just go ahead and say it. This stuff is unforgivably creepy! I mean, in the words of your generation, “WTF?” When I watched The Others a very long time ago, I hoped desperately that two things in it didn’t exist in real life: photo albums filled with pictures of dead people, and Nicole Kidman. The jury’s still out on Kidman, but these “books of the dead” were in fact a fad that could not have been brief enough in my humble opinion. In fact, it’s still out there. (Check it out: http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/. And my heartfelt sympathies to people who have had the loss of an infant in their life, but there’s no two ways about it–a picture of a dead baby is more macabre than . . . than anything in this physical universe!)
Let’s pause the rant to explain exactly what this phenomena is. (And I apologize for the picture, but I thought you might not believe me.) This is where people in the long-ago times used to snap off a shot of their recently deceased relative, particularly a child or infant. And somehow they managed not to find the blank-eyed lifelessness of the cadaver to be terrifying to the point of sucking the soul out of them. I don’t know what they did with these pictures. Did they stick them on their mantels? On the sideboard? On the wall heading up the stairs?
Think about that poor girl in the picture, though. Daguerreotype was a slow process. “We need you to hold your dead sister in your arms for about ten minutes while we take this picture.” Are you kidding me? I’d be like, “Mother, Dad, I love you, and I loved her, but I’m not touching the dead girl!“
Anyway, I realize that this has been more solid rant than actual explanation for the procedure, but you can get a more direct explanation by going straight to the Wikipedia page. All I’d be doing is rephrasing that, anyway. So go there for the meat and here for the sauce. Which is: pictures of dead people are creepy beyond any excuse, and if the only picture of my wonderful great-grandfather (whom I have no clue what he looked like) was a post-mortem photo, I would refuse to look . . . and not just because a post-mortem photo of a guy who died of third degree burns wouldn’t be pretty. Poor example, I admit.
That’s basically all I had to say. It’s after midnight and I’m off for bed with visions of tombstones afloating in my head! Cheers, all!