Suzy Snapper
Monday, September 04, 2006
In Memoriam

We live in a very beautiful area, one of breathtaking sunsets, uninterrupted water views and incredible beauty. However, there is a high water table.

What this means is that our loved ones cannot be buried in the area they grew up and lived in. There are no cemetaries here.

So many people buy memorial benches along the edge of the marshlands, tidal flats and water. It becomes a place we can go to sit and think of our passed loved ones, and one that also gives others a great place to stop and rest while they enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.

They're not cheap. $1,000 -$1,500 to start, plus a yearly maintenance fee.

This is our family bench. It's a tribute to my uncle and my cousin..paid for by my aunt, who can no longer visit herself. The walk is just too difficult for her.

Lately, there have been many comments in the paper about these benches being damaged and vandalized. Not just mere initial-engraving or the odd hack, which as distateful as it may be, is almost expected in a public area, but severe disfiguration. A local WWII vet found his wife's bench covered in carved swastikas and cigarette burns in the seats. This is a well-known member of our community, and it was also well-known that his wife passed away of cigarette-smoking illnesses and he had become very anti-smoking since.

Another lady found simply vulgar, racist slurs carved into her bench, referring to her ancestry (or from what the perpetrators had gathered from her last name).

My aunt, with all her health problems, had been reading this and becoming increasingly frantic that she could not check on 'her bench'. She was convinced that hers was also among the damaged, and while we tried to convince her otherwise, we could only hope. My thoughts were from a mere statistical point of view. I knew where the two benches the paper were mentioned were located and they were far from where my Aunt's is. On top of that, given the sheer number of benches, I would be surprised if hers were included in the vandalism.

Last night, after dinner with her and yet another concerned plea, I decided to go check it out myself. This was not easy - it's a good 1/2 mile hike which is still somewhat difficult for me, but I felt necessary.

Unfortunately, her fears were not without merit. I found the bench covered in grafitti. I couldn't make out the words, and can only be thankful that whatever message the "artist" wanted to say was not foul, just messy.

We have decided not to tell her for now. It would do her no good in her current state of health, but will have the bench restored. I took pictures last night, not only of the beautiful sunset pictured above, but also of the damage. I will take more when it's redone and those will be framed for her. It just makes me so sad that these individuals who feel the need to deface property in this manner likely have no idea the true damage they cause.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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