Sunday, November 13, 2005

Today I painted Tony’s tomb.

Today I painted Tony’s tomb.


Well, here in Greece people are buried fast. Often less than 24 hours after death. Every village has a cemetery and every cemetery has a few ‘common’ graves. Most people are buried in family tombs, but these common graves serve for strangers: visitors and foreigners.

When Tony died in July there was one vacant grave in our village cemetery, so I was able to have him buried close by.

The law here says that a grave cannot be opened for at least 3 years. After that time a body in a common grave is removed and re-interred in a family tomb or in an ossuary (bone store) if the family is poor. The common graves are re-used and so get a little scruffy.

I decided it was time to spruce Tony’s grave up a bit. He already has a great pot with silk flowers (real ones wither in an hour or two in the summer heat here) and a potted plant. He also has an incense burner and an all-weather oil lamp (must-haves if you want to keep in with local custom).
Next week his name stone will be ready to go on. In order to get the grave ready for that event I gave it a coat of acrylic white this morning.

You would have laughed to see me. I picked a Sunday morning because that’s the quietest day in the graveyard. These common graves are all together forming one monolithic slab. Tony’s is the 3rd one in a row of 4. I had to crawl across Giorgio's next door then along Tony’s tomb on my hands and knees to get the job done.

Imagine a middle-aged English woman wriggling backwards over a large concrete box, wire brush in one hand and paint brush in the other, while my dog sits and stares at me as if I’ve gone completely crazy. Fortunately my timing was perfect and nobody saw me.

By the time I’ve finished Tony’s temporary resting place will look respectable. It will be used again when Tony’s remains are moved on to a new tomb in the planned graveyard extension.

Then he will have a smart marble tomb with room for me, no painting required.

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