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Headstone cleaning

(26 Posts)
Anne58 Fri 01-Mar-13 18:29:28

Hello all,

As some may know, I have been helping with a friend of ours who had a stroke just before Christmas (I refuse to use the term "stroke victim") and we have been going out for walks to various places with him and 3 lovely dogs!

On a recent walk we stopped by at the cemetery where my much loved step father is buried, and where we had my son Jacks ashes buried at the foot of my step fathers grave. I was testing the ground to see if I could plant a pot of in bud narcissus and perhaps some snowdrops.

The gravestone (which was lifted and re-engraved to include Jack) lies flat, rather than the upright ones. I thought it could do with a bit of a scrub, but am not sure what might be best to use.

Do you think that perhaps I should try something mild to begin with, perhaps going there with a bucket of water with some washing up liquid and a scrubbing brush?

Thank you in advance.

Ana Fri 01-Mar-13 18:31:33

What sort of stone is it made of, phoenix? I mean, shiny marble or not?

kittylester Fri 01-Mar-13 18:32:19

That's what we use for my brother's headstone phoenix Matt prefers 'Stroke Survivor' xx

johanna Fri 01-Mar-13 19:38:31

Practically, yes a scrubbing brush and washing up liquid.
Emotionally, your post is very moving.

Anne58 Fri 01-Mar-13 20:01:14

Thank you all for the responses, they are appreciated.

The stone isn't shiny marble, I think it is unpolished granite. (I really should know, shouldn't I ?)

My step father died in 1999, at the of 61, and was buried. My mother absolutely hates cremations, but my ex husband and I agreed that we couldn't bear the thought of Jack going into the ground, so it was a cremation on 29th December 2008, followed by the burial of his ashes on April 29th 2009, which incidntally would have been Jacks 20th birthday.

The cemetery is such a lovely spot, right next to the house where my parents lived and the section where my step father and Jack are is only a wall away from the field where I used to put my sheep out once they had all lambed.

Right, I will buy the pot of narcissus in bud, and Mr P and I will go a'planting on Sunday.

Unfortunately edging stones are now not allowed, because of the way that the cemetery is maintained.

It is a very small village church with church yard and at the risk of sounding weird, it is so beautiful that I think it would not be a bad place for a picnic. In some countries (Italy, Portugal) they have special days when the family of the deceased congregate in the graveyard for a sort of celebration.

I will try Google to see if there are any pictures of it.

Thank you.

Ana Fri 01-Mar-13 20:06:44

Sounds lovely, phoenix. I do hope you have a temperate day for it. sunshine

Anne58 Fri 01-Mar-13 21:51:27

Thanks Ana I'm such a wuss that I will only countenance doing it on a day where the weather is ok.

Jack would understand, but my step father would give me a proper talking to!

When Bob (my stroke chum) and I stopped by the other day Bob couldn't get over what a lovely place it was, I did have a bit of a wobble on Bob's behalf, as the stone shows that my stepfather was only 61 when he died (1999) and Bob is the same age.

Bob and his wife Jo came to Jacks funeral service, but the burial of Jack's ashes (quite a few months after the funeral service, see previous post) was
a much more intimate affair.

So much I would like to say, ex dh's partner took control of much of the arrangements re the funeral etc, but unfortunately it's not one of those things you can have a second go at!

Pete Fri 01-Mar-13 21:55:02

flowers phoenix

Ana Fri 01-Mar-13 22:02:59

So much love, phoenix. You and they have been blessed. flowers

kittylester Sat 02-Mar-13 08:45:50

(((Hugs))) * phoenix*

Mamie Sat 02-Mar-13 09:07:25

Hugs, Phoenix.
Your post reminded me of one day last year when I was helping clean the church in our village here in France, for the wedding of a friend's son. As we came out into the churchyard, the others all stopped to wipe over the family tombs and re-arrange the (plastic) flowers. It made me realise how easy it is to lose touch with the past when family are buried or have ashes scattered elsewhere. One of our friends says that he was born at the top of the hill, moved down to the family farm, then down again to retire and next time he will move down to the churchyard at the bottom of the hill and stay there.
We feel very rootless in comparison.

JessM Sat 02-Mar-13 09:11:52

Morning phoenix. If there is gold lettering or anything, dont go scrubbing that bit. Maybe a very soft toothbrush?
When I was a child an afternoon out with my Nana (who we lived with) was going to the cemetery in the Mumbles. We went on the Mumbles Train - a kind of tram, which, sadly. was got rid of to widen the road.
Clickety clack around the bay and then we'd walk up the hill at Oystermouth. The Victorian cemetery, with its angels was in a beautiful hidden valley. Primroses, bluebells and other spring flowers everywhere. The area where my grandfather was buried was uphill on an exposed spot, overlooking Mumbles Head. Great views of the bay. Bit of a tidy up and flowers in fresh water. Then we'd walk back down the hill to Joe's ice cream parlour. Then back on the train. I think as a consequence of these happy memories I am quite drawn to cemeteries. flowers

Movedalot Sat 02-Mar-13 09:57:39

phoenix some time ago we saw a product made specially for this prupose, I think it was Homebase. We intended to buy it for Fil's grave but forgot so I can't be sure but think it was a DIY store. The people who supplied the stone will know but they might want to be commissioned to do the job themselves. We did that once and the result was veyr good.

It does sound as if you are now comint to terms with things and remembering the good times. flowers

sunflowersuffolk Sat 02-Mar-13 16:37:14

Phoenix - just sending (((Hugs))) and lovely happy memories of your Jack xx

Anne58 Sat 02-Mar-13 17:17:56

Moved no option re coming to terms, you just have to move forward in your own way, and at your own speed.

JessM definitely NOT any gold lettering, my stepfather would have had a complete fit! he would have thought it very vulgar. (Titled family, bless him)

sunflower, Pete, Ana, Mamie, Kitty et al many thanks for your good wishes.

Planting on hold for now, as DS1 will be coming over tomorrow at some stage, (he can't specify when, typical!) so we need to be in, but hopefully will be planting sometime next week.

Movedalot Sat 02-Mar-13 17:26:41

Well done you Phoenix not everyone sees it like that and they unfortunately make their own lives a misery and also those around them. I hope you get another nice spring day to do your planting. Keep up the happy memories. flowers

Butty Sat 02-Mar-13 18:11:51

phoenix I am sure there'll be some good, warm planting days coming soon. A little sunshine helps with the caring.

Whenever I return to the UK, I always visit Mum's gravestone (it lies flat with no edging apart from the grass), and I take with me a little spade to edge, a bucket, large bottle of water and a soft hand brush. Works a treat.

Butty Sat 02-Mar-13 18:13:17

I meant to say ..... with the love and caring.

Eleanorre Sat 02-Mar-13 18:34:54

Sorry to add a note of levity to this moving thread but I had to tell you about my aunt who visited us in Aberdeen. As you may know Aberdeen is known as the granite city ( as so many of it's buildings are made of the local granite ). We were going along in the bus one day when my aunt spotted a sign on a shop which said '' Granite Cleaners '' My aunt immediately said how handy that would be for her husband's gravestone. I had to tell her that is was a dry cleaner's shop.

Faye Sat 02-Mar-13 18:41:03

When living overseas I had the thought if I died I would want to be buried at home (for me in Australia). I like the idea of putting Jack's ashes so close to home. It really is a good idea and makes me think families could have a place where all their ashes go together, instead of scattered all over the place.

Lots of (((hugs))) from me Phoenix, when I heard that song, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, not long after your last post about your son it reminded me of him. I was driving along the Mallee Highway on a lonely stretch of road and I cried thinking of Jack. Your posts about him have certainly touched many people. flowers

granjura Sat 02-Mar-13 18:53:12

My mum asked for a natural limestone rock to be put on her grave - and that it should never be cleaned. I had a small bronze bird she had on her desk mounted on the stone, as she loved birds and singing.

A few years ago, a lady decided to scrupulously clean all the 18C headstones at her local cemetery, all lichen, moss etc - and the other residents were up in arms and complained to English Heritage, etc. I must say i just love the lichen on antique headstones.

I am sure marble could just be cleaned with soapy water and a sponge - I wouldn't use anything that could attack the polish. Thinking of you.

Humbertbear Sat 02-Mar-13 19:49:16

I was told never to use household detergents. A quick online search revealed a page of advice on methods of cleaning and there is also a dedicated spray cleaner. hope this helps

celebgran Sun 03-Mar-13 09:58:51

M parents sadly passed away years ago my dad in 1970 there is lovely marble statue n it and I use bleach! Works wonders.

Tegan Sun 03-Mar-13 12:23:00

Oh what a beautiful place it sounds, phoenix. When I was a child a day out would often be a walk to the local cemetary to 'visit the ancestors'. My mum was the youngest of a very large Victorain family and we were very much in touch with the family that were no longer with us. When my mum died it meant everything to me to have her ashes put in the grave with her mum, and later my dad's ashes were scattered over the grave [with him not being a family member]. I had the stone cleaned and re worded to incorporate mum and dad. It's a very old cemetary [Warstone Lane in Birmingham, by the jewellery quarter]. Maybe it's because of my childhood, but I love visiting old graveyards and try to pay my respects to those that rest there. I think a picnic is a lovely idea smile.

annodomini Sun 03-Mar-13 13:11:26

As children we were never taken to graveyards, but although we all live quite a distance from our parents' graveyard, we have tried, as often as possible, to visit them, plant spring flowers on the grave and keep it spruced up. I don't mind the weathered look on a gravestone, as long as it doesn't obscure the inscription. In a Leicestershire churchyard there is a large family tomb in which seven generations of my clerical ancestors are buried. It's extremely conspicuous.