Tag Archives: grandparents

M is for . . .

In January of this year, my father and I went to visit the grave sites of his parents, who are buried in Northern Virginia. I hadn’t been since my grandmother was buried in 1970, when I was 10, so it was as though I were visiting that cemetery for the first time.

I find grave markers interesting, so I walked around to visit some of my grandparents’ neighbors, noticing the years of their births and deaths, wondering who might have been when they lived above ground.

I came upon this marker, which stopped me on my path.

Wow, M. Who could this be? Could she be Monica, without a last name? Could it be someone with no family, or someone whose family couldn’t afford any more than a single letter?

For the past six months, I’ve imagined who M was, when she or he might have lived and died. I’ve created scenarios and stories in my mind. Was she a wartime nurse? Was he a child? Does M’s family, if they exist, ever come to visit? Are flowers ever placed on M’s grave? I just couldn’t let it go.

Recently I learned that a friend’s son has a summer job mowing grass and maintaining the grounds at that same cemetery.

I jumped on the chance to learn M’s identity. I e-mailed this picture to my friend, asking if her son could find out who this deceased person, with whom I’d been so preoccupied, was.

A day later, the reply came:

“Not a person. It is a plot marker to direct the grave diggers.  As in ‘plant Mr. Jones at 4M.'”

 This is the first time I’ve been disappointed to learn that someone didn’t die.


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, In Memoriam


Yesterday was much ado about 10-10-10. There were more weddings than usual and probably some induced births, scheduled to take advantage of the memorable binary date.

On our way to church, my husband and I were listening to a rerun of a Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown on satellite radio. The date flashing across the car radio screen was 10-10-70. We commented on each song and what we remembered about it. On 10-10-70, my husband had begun his senior year of college. I was in fifth grade.

All of a sudden, I remembered exactly what I was doing on 10-10-70. I have included here a page from my diary on that date 40 years ago.

I was on vacation in Rome with my parents and grandparents—my mother’s parents, Nanny and Grandaddy, and my father’s widowed mother, Nana Marie. Nana Marie was my roommate on the trip.

The diary page tells the short version of the story and this blog really doesn’t lend itself to a much longer version. But it happened like this. Rome was the third and final city of our European trip and we had arrived by train from Zürich late the night before. The six of us did some sightseeing in the morning. My mother, her mother and I went back to the hotel to rest, while my father, his mother and my grandfather walked over to look at the Vatican, a sight Nana Marie had waited her whole Catholic life to see.

Later that afternoon, my father and grandfather returned to the hotel, looking grim. They broke the news that, after they turned the corner at St. Peter’s Square, my grandmother looked up at the Vatican in awe, quoted a verse from her childhood catechism book and collapsed. Minutes after arriving at the hospital by ambulance, she died. She was 52 days away from her 60th birthday.

October 10th isn’t an anniversary I observe regularly; just when I happen to remember it. Thanks to Casey Kasem and Sirius XM, I saw the reminder in bright red numerals. 10-10-70.

I dedicate this blog post to Marie Elizabeth Perry Ruslander and all who loved her, with the Gospel words that may have been her last. Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”


Filed under Family and Friends, Travel