Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Birthdays, remembered and misremembered

According to my grandmother’s tombstone, she was born 114 years ago today. Except she wasn’t. She was actually born 114 years ago tomorrow. Dang, I hate that carved-in-stone error!

This photo of my grandmother, Lola, at age 2,
 is one of my most prized possessions.
The photo was taken in 1898.

I remember that the first time I saw the tombstone after Mammaw died, I inquired about getting it corrected. One option was to buy a whole new tombstone, and the only other suggestion was to put the right date on a little piece of marble (stick-on correction marble?) that could be attached to the tombstone to cover up the mistake. The former method wasn’t in my budget, and I thought the latter would look tacky.  So, I made a decision to think it over for a while, and that's what I've done about it -- nothing -- for the last 22 years.

When I think about this mistake, the genealogist in me always beeps an alarm: “DATA ERROR! DATA ERROR! DATA ERROR!” But that isn’t what really bugs me. What makes me feel bad about it is that I know Mammaw earned the right to rest in peace under a letter-perfect headstone.

Not that she would have cared. She was the most forgiving person I’ve ever known and would have brushed off that kind of mistake with a wave of her hand and a big smile. Her only concern would have been to make sure no one was embarrassed about it.

My stepfather was the one who provided the information to the monument company, and he wouldn’t have recognized that the birthdate was wrong. I can only guess that Mother, or whoever gave the dates to him, was distraught and confused Mammaw’s birthday with another birthday in the family.

That would be the birthday of my aunt Yvonne, who was born 87 years ago today.

This is Yvonne on the day she married Neale,
my grandmother Lola's son. Although Neale
is shown in his uniform, Yvonne chose not to
wear hers to her wedding; she was a WAC
 They met and married in England during
World War II.


  1. These photos must be so precious to have, as a memento and just because they are so old and beautiful. I think your grandmother was infinitely precious and your aunt was also lovely.

    It's too bad about the tombstone.I hope you'll find a solution, but other than replacing it, I can't think of one.Perhaps you'll have to think about it awhile longer, lol!

  2. Wow. Wonderful photos. Your grandmother was such a lovely young girl. I love old photos such as these, and the stories behind them. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Great pictures!

    You know, I think they could carve a 7 into a flat topped 8 if they tried...

  4. I can see why that photo of your grandmother is precious to you! I don't have any that old. She sure was cute!

    I agree with Holly, you might check with a tombstone maker, or whatever they call themselves, about your options for correcting it. Maybe they can do things nowadays they couldn't do 22 years ago.

  5. Thanks everybody. The photos ARE precious to me, and their age is certainly part of their charm. It's fun to hold something so old in my hand and try to imagine the hands that have held it through the years since it was new.

    I agree that there should be some way to change that seven into an eight, and maybe someday I'll try again to find out what's possible. I live three hours away from there, so this isn't a problem I think about except when Mammaw's birthday is near.


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