This is an old photo of the crypt my family has in Hamilton Ohio. I was looking through some of my Dad's old papers at the bank yesterday and found this picture and some paperwork about it. My Father sent an endowment for perpetual care of this old tomb in the eighties but I wonder if it is being kept up. My Grandparents and my Great Grandparents and other family members on my Father's side of our tiny little family are buried there. I want to know their names and learn about them. I want to know who is buried here.
If there is anyone out there who lives in Hamilton or knows anyone in Hamilton I would love to know anything about the Francis X Black family. Maybe I can find a Hamilton chamber of commerce. Our family's business was called Black and Clauson and they manufactured paper mill machinery. Yes, that's right I get to lay claim to a family connection to deforestation and whaling because they killed whales to use in the dog food that my Grandfather canned. He was the first person to manufacture canned dog food, it was called Dr. Ross dog food. He was also the first person to build and run a homeopathic manufacturing plant (Hyland's Homeopathic and Standard Homeopathic), so that's one nicer bit of history I'm tied to.
I called the cemetery today, it's called Greenwood Cemetery, and I left a message on their machine. It gives me the creeps and makes me sad that when tombs are very old and the owners of cemeteries think that no one is left alive to care about the people who were buried there they will sometimes sell the land. I know this happened in San Francisco and it seems so cruel and unfair. To me burial places are sacred and should be treated with respect.
My Father wanted to be buried here but my Mother wouldn't allow it. She wanted to be buried in the same cemetery as her parents and she wants my Father to be beside her, but now all of a sudden, and after not having respected my Father's wishes to have him buried with his beloved parents and uncle, she is suddenly saying she wants to be cremated, essentially stranding my Father in the middle of a bunch of people he doesn't know in a cemetery he never liked.
Sometimes I think I'll just have my Dad dug up and cremated and take him and my Mother with me wherever I go. Sometimes I think I would like to be cremated and have my ashes scattered at sea in a Hawaiian funeral service on Maui in Napili Bay at Napili Kai. I want to be set adrift in a coconut with flowers all around and people wading out and holding hands in a circle. I saw a funeral like this and it was one of the most touching things I've ever seen.
As if this entry weren't bleak enough I brought home this letter my Father's Mother wrote detailing her last wishes. I want to share it with you because I think it's moving and beautiful. She was such a lovely woman, she wrote poetry and devoted her life to the care of her husband, her son and her brother. She was one of the first American women to travel to China and she survived the San Francisco earthquake. They had just come back from the orient and their ship docked there. She was staying at The Grand Hotel, I think, when the earthquake hit and she ran outside and stood on the swaying, crumbling steps clutching on to a vase she had brought back with her. We still have it. It's beautiful.
She was jolly looking and sweet, but sadly she was old and in poor health when I was adopted so I never knew her. I always called my Grandparents on my Dad's side the sick Grandma and Grandpa. I so wish I had known her but I imagine I knew her before this life and I will know her again when I leave. I am sure she is around me and that she comes to me in my dreams but I am not consciously aware of her, only that I love her dearly.
The odd capitalization errors are hers as is all of the underlining. Some of the words were underlined twice but I can't show you this. She wanted the shot of adrenaline because she was afraid that she might be buried alive and wanted to be certain she was dead before they took her body away. Pet was her nickname.
619 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, Calif.
July 5th 56
To My dear Wonderful Family, to make it easier for you. This is my request.
Please follow my Plans and Wishes.
1st Services strictly Private in Calgary Cemetery -- Mass by Father Gallagher. Remains placed in Calgary Mausoleum until you Can go East. As I insist Remains are to be put in FX Black Mausoleum in Hamilton No Service in Good Shepherd Church. Prefer reading. "The Lord is my Shepherd. In My House there are many Mansions." "I know that My redeemer Liveth."
Offerings From Friends can be sent to Cancer Fund Good Shepherd Convent. No Flowers and 1 Spray Pink Roses on Casket.
I will be with you all. Love and God bless you and don't grieve or miss me too much
Breaks my Heart to leave you all. You are so dear to me!
Clothing Night Gown and Jacket to wear is in lowest drawer of desk.
Prefer Cunningham O'Conner Undertakers. First I would like for Dr. Cryst to give me a shot of Adrenaline before I am taken out of the house.
Wish everything very private only immediate family. No Rosary at the House. Holy Water, Candles, and Night Gown in lowest desk drawer, also velvet jacket.
500.00 to Father O'Callaghan
100.00 for Masses in Good Shepherd Church
100.00 to Altar Society
Louise Black Hyland
I had a great day today. I hung out with my friend Atra and her sister and their daughters. I am so grateful that this amazingly sweet family has moved in so close to us. I love being with them.
Atra and I went to the knit store and picked up her check for her sweaters and bought some more yarn for the jacket she is going to make for me. Jen was swamped as usual and we waited ages for her to get freed up so she could help us. I don't know how she does it without freaking out from the stress, there are just always way too many people and not enough space.
Afterwards we dropped off some of Atra's scarves at a store, (are these skinny knitted scarves as popular where you live as they are around here, scarves and Ugh boots?), and then I took her to four more yarn and knit stores to look for some more knit work for her. Everyone was pretty pleasant and receptive and it looks like we'll be able to get her some work after the first of the year. It seems so unfair that someone as talented and experienced as Atra is, a woman who ran a huge business in Iran, would have to go around looking for work like this. It must be so hard to leave your country and move somewhere so completely foreign. She amazes me, how brave she is, how terrific her English is for being here for such a short time. I can't imagine trying to live in Iran and speak Farsi every day.
I bought Atra's sister Maryam a little buckwheat pillow at the mall last night because she was saying she wanted to put some pressure on her incision, where she had a recent operation. You put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and it holds the heat and the lavendar smells nice. I hope it will help ease her discomfort. One of the things that really blows me away about my relationship with Maryam is that she is PHD scientist and does animal research. She does experiments on mice. For anyone who hasn't been following my journal for very long I recently went through a little drama where a Live Journal friend dropped off my list of friends because her husband is an animal researcher and because I have always held a very hard core, radical, anti-animal research P.O.V. we got into a bit of a skirmish then I banned her. I felt badly about this because I liked her and I think I may have hurt her feelings with some very blunt, direct and stinging things that I said.
All of that said, I am amazed at the beauty in God's having put Maryam in my path. It seems to me that as soon as one animal research related person leaves my life, another one comes along and is put in it. I don't know if I am meant to learn compassion and forgiveness for people who participate in this kind of work, if I am meant to soften my stand, or if I am meant to have some affect on and somehow change Maryam, but what I do know is that I am learning to love her and that in this there is something very profound and deep.
By the way, last night Scott, Beau, his friend Steven and I went to see The Last Samurai and I thought it was beautiful. I cried. It seemed like a kind of big budget, commercial, Westernized version of an Akira Kurosawa film, but I really liked it. I hope that Tom Cruise, the actor who played the Samurai Commander and the film get nominated for Academy Awards. I thought Tom was robbed of at least a nomination for his work in Magnolia, I thought he was amazing in that.
Shaquille O'neal was in the movie theatre sitting in the back row and everyone was turning around to look at him. After the movie as we were leaving I saw some young Asian guys taking pictures of Shaq's popcorn and drink with their cell phone cameras. When I asked them what they were doing they said, "We're taking pictures of his trash."
Okay well, I'm exhausted and need to go lie down. I haven't even been able to check my e-mail in a few days I've been so busy. My cat Friendly is laying across my feet and the rats are nibbling away at their food behind me. Tea Tea or littlest tabby kitty is finally back from the hospital, but Buki, Twinkle and Zazu all had to be hospitalized. Our vet is going to work on getting an intern from UC Davis to come here and conduct an epidemiological study to try to get a handle on the GD herpes virus and figure out how to wipe it out and help all of our cats get well. In the meantime we're using human antibiotics, an anti-viral immune system booster that AIDS patients use, subcutaneous fluids, eye drops that cost ninety dollars per half ounce bottle and vitamins. It's breaking me financially and I am still trying to figure out a way to bring in some more income in some way that won't make me miserably unhappy. I can't go back to working nine to seven in a cubicle somewhere, I need to be around for my son and I want to do something that makes use of my creativity and that is stimulating and fun...
Big loving but super weary hugs,