Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

ABC Wednesday......

M is for MINSTEAD................

.......................and MAISY

MINSTEAD is one of the villages we visited when we were in the New Forest last week.
It's a tiny place.
But it had something in the graveyard that I wanted to see...

....so, up the hill to the church we went:
...see the double lych gate? Apparently they're very rare. The block in the centre of this one is a coffin rest. You rest the coffin there as you walk in either side....
Just inside the gate is half a yew tree. Really! It was very old, and split after a storm a few years ago. The parish voted to keep what was left. The resulting carcass effect is a rather eerie welcome....
We walked around to the back of the church, and here it is, what I came to see:
The grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes.


Arthur Conan Doyle

Patriot, physician & man of letters.

22 May 1859 - 17 July 1930
and his beloved wife

Jean Conan Doyle

reunited 27 June 1940

I love the way someone has left a pipe!The grave is near to a big oak tree:
In actual fact, he isn't buried here. This is his wife's grave. Arthur was not permitted to be buried in the main part of the graveyard because he was a Spiritualist. Instead, he is buried "on the outskirts of the graveyard". Hmmm...

Anyway. We turned to walk the other way back to the front of the church- because when I was little I was told that it is unlucky to walk anti-clockwise round a church- "Never go widdershins round a church" was the saying. But don't ask me where "widdershins" comes from!

On my way I spotted this unusual angel:
It stood out to me because, although not overlarge, the figure was clinging to the back of the headstone. I've never seen this kind of memorial before. Angels usually kneel at the front or stand hugging a cross, or have their backs subsumed into the main headstone. This is different: meditative, thoughtful. Even a little playful.She is draping some roses over the stone.
I was moved, and wanted to know who had inspired this.....
MAISY Elisabeth Smith.
She died at just 10 weeks old on 26th April 2000.

I wanted to take more photo's but something held me back from doing so. It seemed wrong.
The Conan-Doyle grave was different- maybe because he was famous. Or perhaps because that was longer ago.
I didn't know Maisy's family. To take more pictures felt like a sneaky theft.

So instead I stood the flowers up that had toppled over. Tidied off a few dead leaves and read the inscription. When I got home, I was surprised to see that I hadn't even photographed that. But I do remember the gist of what it said: that Maisy had been so "loving and giving, and exactly what the world needed, but maybe Heaven needed her kind more, to help look after us all". I think that was it.

I felt uncomfortable beside the austere cross of the Conan Doyle grave. But I had to pull myself away from this one. It was starting to rain, my partner had started to walk back to the car, and maybe this interest in a grave was starting to look weir
d. So eventually I left Maisy and her angel behind.

It had been nice to see a more recent and more tender monument, seemingly beautifully indifferent to being in the shadow of an
800 year old building, its fractured yew and its more famous residents.

I don't have any faith to speak of any more. And that's another story. But like I recently read of Julian Barnes, "I don't believe in God, but I miss Him." ...I have to admit there was a sweetness around this little resting place. I left it with a lilt inside that returned now, just as I typed this. And I will remember it far longer than the more renowned grave by the impressive oak.


By the way, I didn't think about using "M for Maisy" when I took the photo's. This only occurred to me the other day. I think if I had thought of it at the time it would have stopped me taking the pictures at all.

It seems her anniversary is coming round soon (26th). Spare some thoughts for Maisy and her family when it does, won't you?


For more info ABC Wednesday posts, go to Mrs Nesbitt's blog

where you will see a blogroll of those taking part.



leslie said...

This post has really touched me. At first, I thought "Oh how wonderful to see the grave of this famous author," but then I almost wept with the thought that this Maisy had left her loving family behind too soon. How sweet of you to give her such a lovely tribute.

Anonymous said...

What an excellent M post.
So glad you included Maisy, that was very moving.

Blue said...

Dont how I came out as Anonymous!


mrsnesbitt said...

H, this is lovely and indeed my eyes are full.
It is strange how ABC Wednesday finds its way into our little worlds. I was thinking about it all week, as I always do. I was so set on doing M for Max, my beloved German Shepherd, then M for Mum, who I miss so much, who was also M for marjorie, then, with hours to go it was going to be M for munch...see the horse pics in my odd shot and then with a flurry at the winning post in flew Wilma and Elsie with the muzzle....even as we were sitting midst the howling at the vets I was composing the post in my little brain. It somehow helped me cope with the mayhem...........m for mayhem! I am off! LOL!

Hope lovely Colchester is Ok today...dull here!


Ackworth Born said...

A great post and you do right to photograph Maisy's grave yet also right not to reveal the whole of it.
We have a daughter who died at 3 weeks [mentioned for context not for sympathy] and has a gravestone which we never visit - I'd like to think others do see her there from time to time.
widdershins is a grand old Yorkshire word.

Ida said...

Excellent M post! :)
Interesting and eventful.


Andrea said...

This is a beautiful and touching post. Love all your pictures too. Wonderful M post.

Petunia said...

I agree with Leslie. This post really touched me too.
Great choice for M and thank you for sharing it:)

Petunia's ABC

Anne-Berit said...

What a touching story.The gravestone with the angel is beautiful,I have never seen anything like it.

ellen b said...

I really enjoyed your M post today. I love to visit the old graveyards. This one you gave a little tour of was very interesting. It must be very hard to lose a child. love the pipe at Sir Arthur's grave...

CherryPie said...

What a lovely post :-)

That tree is quite amazing too!

Neva said...

what a good choice!
I hope you can stop by here or here!

starnitesky said...

That is such a touching post, the angel is beautiful.

Katney said...

A sensitive adn thoughtful post. Wonderful for the letter M. Thank you for sharing your visit to the graveyard.

Dragonstar said...

I love Maisy's angel. Thank you for posting this.

Calamity Jane said...

Thank you Helena - I think you can figure out why what you did means so much to someoone like me

Shrinky said...

Oh Helena,

You have such a tender way of seeing with your heart that which most eyes merely skim past. Thank you for letting us see what you did, I feel richer for it. x

Sandy Kessler said...

I'd like to hear the faith story sometime- it's difficult to hold on sometimes, when we see the cruelty in the worlf. Lovely tribute to all of this special quiet place,