AngloFile – Heston Parish

AngloFile-1 (Aug. 24)

I never knew my grandmother, Mabel Eliza Montgomery Bennett. She died several years before I was born, and lived 3,000 miles across the water in any event. What little I heard about her was from my mother and my aunt, whose anecdotes were fleeting and perhaps a bit contrived, as if they themselves struggled (after years of having lived a continent away) to reconstruct her memory.
[caption id="attachment_447" align="alignleft" width="300"]Heston Parish Graveyard Heston Parish Graveyard[/caption]Her final resting place lies in a quiet, aging graveyard next to the 18th-century Heston Parish Church in the southwest London suburbs. It is where my mother was living before she began her lifelong journey to America. The grave is a risen, modest rectangle of earth with three of four square marble corners (one has been lost) and an outer ridge which bears Mabel’s name.
Today I sprinkled some of my mother’s ashes on the earth and tamped it down there, atop of her mother. A royal blue-feathered bird eyed me from a distance, a young man sat against a statue near the church and whispered flirtatiously into a cell phone. Ewe trees bent splendidly, shading the periphery of the site, and cinder-colored clouds made chase with the sun.
As the lone mourner I was free to shuffle through new imaginings–had mother ever ridden her bike to the church? What were the last words she’d shared with Mabel before she parted for America? Did she find a private spot and cry, as a 23-year-old bride an ocean away, when she found out her mother had passed?
She did not attend her mother’s funeral; boats and planes were too expensive in 1947. She never saw, touched, or beheld in any way her mother’s grave until today.

This gravesite reunion of my mother and my grandmother is, of course, designed for the living. What’s dead is dead, and memories replace the physical spaces the women once held.
But Mabel, my grandmother, has a grave, a respite for the living, and for those who have become ash. Part of my mother rests there forever; I can always return.

Tomorrow we will find some colored stones to cover the top of the grave. We will find something that needs little care but whose bright presence marks the meeting point of souls.

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One Response to AngloFile – Heston Parish

  1. myrrh says:

    Mommy, you are such a beautiful writer.

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