Saturday, October 6, 2012

Memorial Cards

I swore to myself that I would write for every day of October; Family History Month. Although I have already broken my promise to myself, on the days I have not written, I have spent them with family.

As I posted days ago, my great-uncle, Bill Cramer, Sr., passed away on October 1 at the age of 90. Thursday was the wakes and Friday, yesterday, was the funeral. As services go, these were very nice in that I got to see lots of relatives and meet some cousins I had never met before. Three of Bill's children live out of state and so it is a rare occasion that they come back to NY where they grew up. When they do visit, they just don't have the time it takes to see all of our extended family and so there are some Bill's grandchildren, my 2nd cousins, whom I had never met before.

After the funeral and post-funeral lunch yesterday, I came home to place my prayer card in my bible. You know what prayer cards are. Some people call them memorial cards, holy cards, funeral cards, mass cards, and even saint cards. They are the small, credit card sized, often laminated, cards that are available at wakes. On one side there is an image and on the reverse is a short prayer along with the deceased's name and dates of birth and death.

Typically genealogical resources contain the names of two or more people. After all, genealogy research is really about documenting relationships. A piece of paper that only manes one person does not really present a relationship. However, these memorial cards make for a fascinating addition to a genealogists collection. These little cards express something of the individuals character, the family's beliefs, and of course the life span dates of the individual.

At Uncle Bill's wake they funeral parlor offered many, many, many different images on the reserve of the same text. I chose two to bring home; one to place in my bible and the other to give to a friend who's parents were customers of Uncle Bill's Fuller Brush business for many many years.

I chose to keep the one of the Holy Family; a depiction of Mary to the left, Joseph to the right and a small Christ child in the center framed by flowers at the base. When I opened my bible, I looked for the memorial card I had for Bill's son Richard who passed away 18 years ago. To my surprise, I chose a very similar depiction of the Holy Family when I selected Richard's card from the ones available at his memorial service back in 1994.

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