This is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make this a regular thing, but I decided that if the prompt fits, I’d give it a shot. This week’s prompt is ‘memory’ and a couple of Saturdays ago, I was dealing with a stream of memories, so I guess it fits.
My daughter and I were on a mini-vacation in Pittsburgh. We began Day-1 at one of Faith’s Pittsburgh memories, Eat’n Park for breakfast. She likes Eat’n Park because you can substitute fruit or one of three kinds of breakfast potatoes for meat in any of the breakfast combos. I like it because you can substitute bacon for sausage in any combo that comes with bacon and sausage. Then you have a combo of bacon and bacon which is good because the only thing better than bacon is more bacon.
After breakfast, we visited Melrose Cemetery where my father is buried. The graves were mostly bare, reduced to undecorated stones to facilitate the fall clean-up activities. Dad’s stone was crusted with dried grass and his VFW flag was leaning badly. I straighten the flag and Faith and I cleared off the grass. I looked down and said “are you happy now?” He was crazy meticulous when it came to grass and cemetery care; he would have wanted his stone to be cleaned.
The next stop was his father’s grave. Actually, his father and two sisters are buried there. They died together in an automobile accident in 1927. Also buried, at the foot of those others, is the brother I never knew, one whose life was measured in hours. Looking at the stone brought back memories of tending that grave with my dad. The soil of that grave was sinking 50 years ago. One year, my father dug up the grass, added a thick layer of dirt and topsoil and laid the grass back down. A few years later, he dug up the grave like a garden, tilling the grass in with more topsoil. He eventually covered the whole plot with rolls of sod that he had brought. I remember being afraid that we were going to dig up the bodies.
The grave is sinking again. I didn’t have any topsoil or any garden implements so we just made the observation. I also noted that the headstone has moved off the base – how does that happen? I wished I had brought my Porta-Power unit with me, and a section of strong chain. That could pull the headstone back onto the base 1-2-6. That would have made my dad happy.
From Melrose, we drove to St. George Cemetery and visited my grandmother’s grave. The last time we were there was in 2009 and we noticed that they had broken ground for a new church. Unfortunately, construction has not begun; they are still raising money. Fortunately, one of the ways they are raising money is with “The Feast from the East” a Mediterranean food festival at the original church. Actually, it isn’t the “original” church, my grandfather helped build the original on a street where he lived. The current church dates back to the late ‘40s. Anyway, we had just eaten breakfast with fruit double bacon, but the sign mentioned “take out” as being available, so off we went.
I mentioned to Faith that I hadn’t been in that church since 1972 when my grandmother died. She had six male grandchildren and someone thought it would be a good idea for us to serve as pallbearers. That was tough duty for me. I was the youngest and I didn’t know what a pallbearer was supposed to do. My brother and I were not raised in the Orthodox Church. I had been to Easter and Christmas services with my father but I had never been to a funeral. I’ll give it to you thumbnail, at least the parts that I will remember forever. Pallbearers sit in the first pew. I remember this because the priest spun the casket around during the mass and opened it. I was not prepared for that. There was a lot of incense and we stood at the grave while the casket was lowered. Yes, I skipped a lot of details there. Pallbearers wear white gloves, and after the coffin is lowered into the ground, we were told to toss the gloves into the grave. I remember not liking that part.
The food festival was being held in the basement of the church, a room with which I was familiar, having sat with my grandmother on many Thursday evenings as she played Bingo in that basement. We took stuffed grape leaves, a meat pie for me and a spinach pie for Faith and Faith snagged some Tabouleh. All good stuff. On our way out, I visited the church. I took some pictures to go with the memories I’ll still have after the new church is built.
The upper picture is Faith at Eat’n Park. The rest are captioned and you can click on any one picture in each group to begin a slide show.