More writing inspired by cemeteries

The week before last I posted a short piece inspired by a gravestone and written by Hannah Rumble at a writing work I co-hosted at Victorian Cemetery Arnos Vale. The tender piece below was written by Angie Holland, another of our talented participants, who produced it in response to the pictured gravestone.

In Loving Memory Of Our Dear Parents by Angie Holland

William C. Butler who died Sept 1965 aged 77
Rosina Kate Butler who died March 1980 aged 87

Finally you were laid to rest together. But now that circumstances have dealt me a similar fate, I reflect on your time apart. How did you find the strength to live? William was your rock, your soul mate, your best friend. What did you do when you needed an answer and forgot, just momentarily, no one was there to ask? Now I understand what it is like to face everyday alone, wondering if the phone will ring or hoping a voice, other than that of George Aligiah, will fill the sitting room, I long to hear your consoling voice, urging me to be strong.

How quiet loneliness is. For whatever is going on all around the noise fails to quench the thunderous silence within. You didn’t seem to dwell on what was missing during those fifteen years; you busily got on with being Supergran, living your life with the young and sharing your whacky sense of humour, as much as your aching hips would allow. We still giggle at your impersonation of Orinoco and your rendition of the Wombling song. The night you delivered a Haka through the car window as we left Auntie Lou and Uncle Jim’s golden wedding party still brings us smiles.

I do know how to face emptiness because you have shown me and in doing so, you have left a treasure chest full of joy that I can open in my darkest moments. It is time to put some more delight into that box, so that your grandchildren have moments of hope in their darkness.

Angie HollandAbout the author

Angie Holland is a creative thinker and very much involved in Bristol’s vibrant food scene. She lives at Paintworks and set up the Tube Diner there after many years teaching food science in schools. Following completion of an MSc in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Public Health at Bristol Uni, she now teaches on these subjects, but retains her love of writing.

Writing inspired by cemeteries

About this time last year, I co-hosted a writing workshop at glorious Victorian Cemetery Arnos Vale. Dr Hannah Rumble was one of the participants, and produced the following contemplative piece of writing, inspired by the pictured gravestone.

Rosina Hill

Rosina Hill by Hannah Rumble

Are you neglected because of your ordinariness?
The regular, uninspiring letters that announce your post-death existence…
That’s not old!
Your name sounds exotic,
Yet you lie forever enmeshed in thorns.
But the dead and the living all have their place!
You appear to nourish the blackberries that grow around you;
you offer them a ‘home’, a ‘root’, a place to establish themselves…
I can’t see all of your gravestone…
Your husband and daughter are almost eradicated to the passer by,
Obscured by the detritus of autumn.
Who died first, I wonder.
I’ll never know…
Does the order of deaths matter?
Your gravestone appears to be cut as a book,
Open on a page that announces your buried remains….
But who reads this page?
It doesn’t look like anyone’s visited this page for a long time.
Words lost to decades of time;
words challenged by the onslaught of the seasons and man’s fickle memory.
History may have categorised you as ‘ordinary’, Rosina,
allowing your neglected gravestone to slowly fall apart.
But, I bet, if you were alive today,
the stories you could tell me would confirm you were anything but!
Rest in peace, for your grave was noticed;
that’s why I can write these lines 69 years later, sitting here today.

Hannah RumbleAbout the author
Dr Hannah Rumble is a Researcher and Teaching Fellow based at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath. She recently published a book called ‘Natural Burial: Traditional-Secular Spiritualities and Funeral Innovation’ and is available to officiate at all rites of passage in her role as a Civil Celebrant.

Nip back next Friday for another work inspired by gravestones, this time written by Angie Holland.