Sunday, July 26, 2009

Barre, Vermont

I am in the process of choosing a memorial stone for my mother's grave. She died on March 3, 2009 and it is time for me to do this next step. In many ways, learning about granite, and planning this memorial stone has been very comforting to me in the past week. I haven't been planning this for a long time, but it just came to me that it was now time to do something about this. I have found what I want, and I am very happy. If that sounds maudlin, I'm sorry, but creating something that is meant to last forever has its happy moments.

I am going to order a memorial stone from a company called Rock of Ages, which is a big public corporation that is known for quality, durability, history and reputation. I have searched the web, and learned about granite and quarries and it is all really interesting!

Several years ago, I visited the Barre, Vermont quarry that is owned by Rock of Ages, where the granite is quarried. You can take tours, and there are huge beautiful cemeteries nearby where the Italian rock cutters from a hundred years ago practiced their craft on beautiful mausoleums and memorial stones in fantastic array. It is an incredible place. Next month, George and I are going to travel to Barre again, to see the quarry and take a tour and visit the cemeteries again for a weekend. It really truly is a beautiful part of the country...Vermont.

There are many varieties of granite, from very interesting places, and there are different grades, colors, etc., but the granite from Barre, Vermont, which is called Barre Gray, is one of the finest. Here is what they say about it on their website: "Recognized around the world as the finest quality gray granite available, Barre Gray is the ultimate long-lasting choice in any finish. Its unique proportions of quartz and feldspar make it unusually durable, moisture resistant and thermally stable." I am choosing this stone for my mother's marker because it is the finest available. To me, it is not the size in this matter, but the quality that is most comforting.

Many years ago, I spent a lot of time with two of my aunts, my mother's sisters, of which there were six. (My mother died at the age of 99 and was the last survivor of her nine brothers and sisters.) They were very interested in the graves of their husbands, and their family, and spent lots of time each month taking flowers to the graves to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. I am not able to go to my mother's grave often because I live so far away, but the least I can do is spend some time designing and purchasing the best memorial marker of it's type.

I have chosen Barre Gray, which is a beautiful medium gray stone. I am going to have this engraved with irises, in memory of my mother's love of her iris garden. She loved her irises and had many kinds and varieties of color and was never happier than we they were all in bloom and she could show them off to her friends and spend time admiring, weeding and dividing them for the next year.

I have talked to the only Rock of Ages dealer in Oklahoma, whose office happens to be across the street from the cemetery where my mother is buried, and he is helping me design and create the memorial with a two dimensional carving of irises. This memorial will be finished in September and George and I plan to take a trip to El Reno to be there to take pictures to share with faraway family. We will invite mother's friends and family who are still there to lunch to celebrate her long life.

If you had talked to me several years ago, I would never have dreamed that the process of choosing a grave marker could be a happy one, or that I would enjoy learning about granite and thinking of color and design of a memorial. Hopefully, it isn't often that we are required to think of buying a memorial, but I've decided to enjoy this process, and to look forward to seeing a beautiful and meaningful memorial stone on my mother's grave.

Have a great day.