Monthly Archives: December 2019

Ancestral Headstones in England

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I was browsing through photographs regarding my ancestors, and came across headstone photographs of my Bubbe’s parents, my paternal Great-grandparents.  It brought back memories of a journey I had made from California to Paisley, Scotland, to visit Scottish cousins.  I am going to share a revelatory moment in time, one filled with beautiful illuminations, and a sense of  the spiritual otherworld, visiting me.

My two Scottish cousins and I drove from Paisley, Scotland to Leeds England, on a journey we had planned for a few months before I visited them.  Our destinations were two cemeteries there, Gildersome Cemetery and New Farnley Cemetery  They are both Jewish Cemeteries.  I have great grandparents buried in both of them.  My cousins had relatives buried in Gildersome Cemetery, only.

We were going to New Farnley Cemetery first, where my Great-grandparents Joseph and Amelia are buried.  We left at about 5:00 a.m., as it was going to be a six hour drive, and would take longer than that with stops for breakfast and lunch.

The drive to Leeds was a lovely one, even from the freeways.  The day was bright and clear, a few white clouds puffed out against the blue sky, there was not a raindrop in sight during the entire trip.  The mountains in the background were majestic looking, standing out in splendor, soldiers guarding the land before them, and I could see lush green grass stretching for miles.  I also saw fields and rows of beautiful wildflowers, yellow, purple, red and orange, the flowers showed their bright blouses within the meadows, as the sunlight enhanced their vibrancy.  It was a stunning sight.

When we arrived, walking through New Farnely Cemetery, trying to locate their headstones was quite the emotional experience, in many ways.  It was also difficult due to all of the grave sites.

It was a sunny day and clear, in England, and I could even see a blue sky.  I stepped foot inside the cemetery, it began to rain, lightly, not unusual in the least for England.  I had grave locations, but they weren’t helpful, as most of signs for them were either destroyed, or unreadable, due to weather elements, and time.  There wasn’t a soul around (pun unintended) who I could ask for help.  I walked up and down the aisles, trying not to step on graves, as they were crammed together, plus many were desecrated, and had piles of stone, or cement, at their burial location.  The light rain continued.  I was there for almost one hour, looking and looking, to no avail.

The cemetery was open until 5:00 pm.  I looked at my watch, and it was approximately an hour before they would close.  I was in a state of emotional frustration at that point, having no luck finding the two grave sites.  I finally looked to the sky, and spoke softly and said “Please dear great-grandparents, please Joseph and Amelia, please dear Bubbe Fanny, please dear dad, anyone, everyone, give me a sign.  Please.”  I was desperate, speaking in a choked up voice.

Right then, the moment, after I finished my pleading, it poured, the rain was torrential, out of the blue, no warning.  Seriously.  I was becoming drenched with each step.  I walked several more steps, looked to my right, looked to my left, and staring at me, two aisles over, were the headstones of my great-grandparents, Joseph and Amelia.  It was quite the emotional moment, a sight beyond words, knowing I was actually there, and I had found them, and I was looking at their headstones, their physical resting place.  Words can never articulate how I felt, staring at their headstones.  My tears were mixed with huge raindrops.

What struck me at first glance (still from two aisles over) was how Joseph’s headstone was leaning towards the right, towards Amelia’s headstone, almost as if he was protecting her, or leaning in, acting in a loving manner.  It moved me to even more tears, showering down my face.

I walked to their grave sites, crying out loud, literally.  I never expected to feel such emotion pouring from within me.

I stayed and said prayers, spoke to them, letting them know I cared, and loved them, even though I never knew them, personally.   I told Joseph I was appreciative that he emigrated from Lithuania to Leeds in 1870, letting him know I was grateful for his courage in making that tremendous journey.  The rain kept coming.

The more I spoke, the harder it rained.  It was unbelievable.  All the while I was there, it poured, and big claps of thunder resonated over the cemetery, strong, clapping cymbals.  It sounded somewhat musical, urgent, intense.  It gave me chills, but at the same time, brought me an unusual comfort.  It was as though their spirits were hovering around me, surrounding me with their tears of love.  The sentinel angels, ancestral beings of my past, were beside me, north, south, east, and west.

I let my Bubbe Fanny know I was there, although I know she was looking down at me, along with my dad, and great-grandparents.  I told her I thought she was an extremely brave and courageous woman, to have gone through what she did, and manage to emotionally survive all the horrid situations and struggles of raising a son by herself after an emotional divorce from my grandfather.  I cried, no, I actually bawled like a baby.  It was difficult to distinguish tears from raindrops.

I looked at my watch, the cemetery was due to close in ten minutes.  As I was getting ready to leave, I picked up two stones, and placed one on each headstone.  The Jewish religion believes that when you visit a cemetery, you should place a rock or stone on a headstone/gravesite, to let others know that someone came to visit, and to show respect for the deceased.  It is a lovely tradition I continue to do this to every gravesite I visit.  I also picked up four more stones to bring home with me.  One for my dad’s headstone in  Wyandanch, NY, and one for my bubbe’s headstone, in Rochester, NY (in case I ever travel to one or both cemeteries).  The other two are for me, personally.

One of my cousins was flagging me down, letting me know we needed to go.  I shouted that I had found the headstones, the grave sites.  She quickly walked over to view the headstones.  She was teary, and she understood how I felt.  It was a mixture of emotions, happiness I found their headstones, sadness at their being gone, sadness at what my bubbe was put through during her lifetime, happiness and admiration for my great-grandparents for supporting my bubbe through her difficult circumstances.

My bubbe’s story will be relayed in other posts.

My cousins went to the car.  I slowly followed.  The minute I walked out of the cemetery gate, the rain suddenly stopped.  Abruptly.  There wasn’t a drop in sight, showering down from the sky.  The rain had stopped, altogether.  The sun was vividly shining, in all of its gloriousness.  It was extremely bizarre.  I had an innate sense, a knowing, an answer filled with inner clarity that is undefinable.

My cousin had a theory on this:  And, said to me “they were all crying because you were there, crying tears of joy and happiness to see you, crying tears of emotion over your bubbe, and once they started to cry, they couldn’t stop”.  My theory runs along the same line of thought.  They were all glad to see me, my great-grandparents, my dad, my bubbe, all of them were there, and I felt their illuminations surround me.  Pent up emotion came out.  We all had a good cry, and by all, I mean my cousins, myself and also my dear ancestors, from another realm.  The rain was a definite “sign”.

Vibrations from the eternal time continuum were at play during our visit.  I have no doubt about that.  I know.  I was there.

Copyright Lorri M.  No permission is given to reuse this story, unless specifically stated so, by me.

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