Sister Angels

About eight or ten years ago, I stopped at this cemetery that I pass all the time.  I had always looked over at the tombstones because there is one long one facing the main street.  It has the most beautiful marble angels … one on each end of the stone.  They seemed to be sister angels watching over the dead at their feet.  Something about them was touching to me.  So, I stopped and photographed each one along with the old bell tower that sits in the back of the cemetery in the original section.  It is an impressive structure built with hand cut and hand laid stone.

First Sister sits on the left of the stone looking down at the grave.

The Second Sister sits on the right looking down at the grave.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to pay another visit to the cemetery for some photograph of early stones.

First sister was sitting patiently waiting.  But, there was something terribly wrong.  Second Sister had been decapitated.  I was horrified.  I stood there in disbelief.   When I collected my wits, I looked at First Sister carefully.  She was intact so I photographed her sad face and her hands holding the wreath in perpetuity.

I turned to Second Sister wondering what to do.  I finally decided to photograph her graceful hands still clutching the wreath.

I almost turned away from the awful gash atop Second Sister’s body.  The violence of it left me a little shaken.  What kind of society do we live in, I thought.  A society whose members desecrate the burial grounds of the dead.

As I walked away, I looked back.  I had not noticed the backs of the Sister Angels before.  I had a strange feeling that Sister was turning her back on all of us.  I wondered if Second Sister could ever be repaired.  I may very well have the only surviving photographs of her whole.

39 Comments on “Sister Angels

    • Oh, I forgot about this post. That is just awful. I keep forgetting to ask about that family. I think I may have the only “good” photos of the sisters when they were whole. Thanks, Andy. You are kind to visit all of my stuff. Obviously, I’m not a photographer, but I like to snap photos. 🙂 The great thing about being old is that you no longer bother to care how well you do things. I will be interested to follow you. I never knew anybody who just up and moved to Europe. It all sounds like such an adventure to me. And, I love adventure … as long as I don’t have to get out of my car…

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  1. I’m so glad you got a photograph of her whole, things that like that upset and me and I’m always distraught when I realise that something I’ve been meaning to photograph is gone forever before I got the chance! Very touching.

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    • Aine, I’m sorry. I just saw this. I can’t keep all of this stuff going on WP. Yes, it upset me too, and I don’t upset easily or shock easily either. I was shocked. I hate it when I go back to something for a photograph and it’s gone. People go too, you know. Photograph your family and good friends. I failed to do that for years. Now, I wish I’d done it. Thanks, Aine.

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  2. Dear George, it is incomprehensible that someone should commit such senseless violence. Your writing captured and communicated your shock. Your photographs were wonderful. The decapitated angel’s lovely hands remained lovely and serene–untouched by the ugliness–and you captured that too.

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    • Naomi, I swear I replied to this because I remember what you said. At any rate, it isn’t here. I appreciate that you felt the same way I did about this. I felt really awful for the family. I hope they can repair the angel. Perhaps they should allow her to stand the way she is to remind people of the nature of the society in which we find ourselves now. She stands at the very entrance to the cemetery. Nobody coming in or passing by could miss seeing her. Maybe that’s the message she needs to convey. You know, I don’t recognize you with the new Gravatar! Get the old one back so I know who you are, child. 😉

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      • Dear George, no worries! I don’t need a formal response. I just throw a thought out there, and know it will get where it’s going. As for the Gravatar–oh, my gosh, I had such a time figuring out how to do that! I knew that green angry smiley face wasn’t the right symbol for me, but I didn’t know what picture to use, and it took me six months to get around to fixing it. So nice to hear from you, George. Hope you and Boy are well.

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    • You know, there are some wonderful markers in cemeteries. I don’t think people are as likely to plan monuments to the dead as they once were. I wonder what that tells us about our culture. We need to slow down and contemplate who we are as a people, I think. Some things should remain sacred even in a disposable world. Thank you for coming and commenting. I keep missing you, but I’ve started to look at my reader more so that I don’t forget where I’m going! 🙂

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  3. George I can’t decide if I should comment now or wait until I compose myself after seeing this exquisite, stirring images, and imagining what it must have felt like for you to discover the violence inflicted on Second Sister. Reading your post and looking at this photographs, I felt as though I were inhabited by your horror as you stood there in the cemetery (I mean as if I were seeing and feeling through your eyes–a very strange experience…, as though I could even hear the sounds you were hearing: I’d say you have a wonderful way of bringing your readers into your world). At the start of this post, I was so delighted to see you had returned to the cemetery, and your photographs of the marble angels are beautiful. The image of Second Sister’s hands is particularly moving. I am just devastated that your visit led to to such a shocking discovery.

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    • Lemony, I think I just ran away from this story! I didn’t respond to anybody’s comments. How strange. I don’t usually avoid anything in the world. This shook me a little. I really don’t know why. I suppose the act itself crossed some line in my head that nobody should cross. I accept most human behavior, but this was a bridge too far, I guess. I’m happy that you liked my photographs. I like the angels so much that I paid a bit more attention to what I was doing when I snapped them.

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  4. I wonder how the vandals felt that night as they laid in bed. Did they rest easy or feel as sick as you did once they saw the result of their destruction. This was a beautiful story with a sad ending!

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    • I’m sure it didn’t bother them at all. If you could do such a thing, something has gone terribly wrong in your mindset. It’s like the mindset it takes to break into a house. Most people cannot imagine actually doing such a thing. Something has gone awry in society, I’m afraid. I’m glad you liked the story even if it did have a sad ending. Such is life, I suppose, but I don’t like it.

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  5. My . . . these are stunning. I think I would have just stood there, staring, at their beauty and wondering if that ridiculously talented artist had got it right. Those hands . . . like someone had poured plaster over real ones.

    Sometimes I imagine what the angels will look like; I hope it’s a little like these sister angels.
    Thank you for sharing, G.

    ~ C

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    • Mollusk Girl, I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. I think I just posted this and ran away. It shocked even an old hand like me. The work on the angels is lovely. I suppose that’s why I couldn’t imagine how anyone could destroy her. I’m sure the angels will be even more beautiful. Thank you for understanding.

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  6. Lovely pictures. I always find peace when going to the cemetery to visit my brother. Wish I could bring him back.
    How horrible – for someone to go & do that to an angel at a cemetery (or anywhere else for that matter). I can’t even begin to think what type of person would do such a thing. And – to bother te home of our departed loved ones – just saddens me. Someone needs to do some deep soul searching.

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    • Rosy, I’m sorry it took me so long to reply. I know how you feel about the burial place of our dead. I hoped that was still sacred. I guess not. I always felt the same way when I visited my brother’s grave. There is just something peaceful and reassuring about cemeteries. I really don’t know why that is. I love walking around in this one. There are huge old oaks and lots of shade. It’s nice there. I hope the family can have the angel repaired. Thanks, Rosy.

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    • Thanks, Pablo. I’m weeks behind on replying to this one. I guess I just hated the idea so much that I moved on from the whole sordid affair. To destroy an angel. Well, that’s a bridge too far for even me! I need to get over to your place. I’m days behind on the photographs. And, they’re always a real treat!

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    • Scott, I am just now returning to this post! I apologize. I think I posted this and ran. I don’t shock easily, but this crossed some line for me. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I thought the burial place of the dead was still sacred. Guess not. Thanks for coming and commenting. Your photographs are really fine these days, BTW.

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      • That’s quite alright, George…there are about two or three million things that are more important than comments on a blog…and yes, one would think that memorials to the dead are sacred, somehow…but maybe becoming less so by some people.

        You are most welcome for visiting and for commenting…it’s always a pleasure to spend time with you, George…and thank you for your nice words about my photographs…I do appreciate them. 🙂

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  7. The head might now be adorning someone’s mantlepiece, or be on sale on E-bay. Some people value money more than anything else. Art only has value in their eyes if it brings them (more) wealth. Does the family know about it? Are there still surviving members? Has the Police been informed? So many questions…

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    • Lady D, I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment. I know nothing about the family or anything about the crime either. I don’t read our newspaper, but it certainly should have been covered there. I doubt that it was. I agree that nothing is of value anymore unless it fetches money. I hoped the burial grounds of the dead were immune from desecration. I suppose I am naive. I agree that it’s probably on a mantlepiece somewhere by now. Thanks for reading her story!

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  8. It’s sad someone would decapitate the angel’s head…and it speaks volume about your heart that you would care..I was really drawn to the photograph you took of the Second Sister’s hands – they were so ‘life-like’ looking and as you put so graceful. Probably kinda corny but, I kept thinking she’s an angel frozen in time.

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    • Mensa Girl, I don’t know how I missed replying on this whole post, but I did! I don’t get your posts in my reader anymore. I have to go back and see if you are still on my follow list! WP screws around with me, I think. Thanks for coming to see the broken angel. Some things in society are just unacceptable. But then the hooligans didn’t ask me if they could decapitate an angel. Wish I knew who they were. I love cemeteries too. I wonder why? They are peaceful and reassuring places. I suppose it’s some kind of primal instinct thing with humans. Elephants have burial grounds too. You should follow my old lady elephant, Shirley, at the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. Her story is fascinating. I think the URL is http://www.elephants.com. Thanks, Mensa Girl. 🙂

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  9. Tombstone art and tombstone rubbings have always been of interest to me. Esp those of early colonial New England. The Puritan Way of Death has a section or two on the subject and some are surprisingly funny – “I told that doctor I was sick “

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  10. Loved the shots ..That first one is stuning
    George i am sure you have noticed too, that close up of one of the sisters ,she looks alive,i mean as if someone has painted face and is posing for camera…
    how pathetic that we can’t even let the dead rest in peace,how pathetic that our rage spills to the graveyard

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  11. The details on the aged marble are incredible! And I love the old bell tower.
    Just cannot comprehend what people gain from vandalism!

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    • Cornelia, I’m weeks late in replying to every comment on this post! I don’t know how I just waltzed on down the road and never looked back. Sigh. I have finally figured out to look at the reader! Now, I will see your photographs. Thanks for being so patient with this old, crazy woman! Come to The Fuzzy Foto if you like. Just to check it out. I post my fuzzy photos there! It’s fun. 🙂 See you!

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    • Thank you. I was so distraught that I forgot to look at the record on the monument! I appreciate the visit and your kind comment.

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