Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Ninth Day

There was a Trisagion Prayer service at Kostas' grave today, as is customary on the 9th day after death. We lit some of those very thin candles and stuck them in the ground, where they almost immediately bent over double in the direct sunlight. (Temps today still near 100.) We laid the rest flat on the ground, lit.

We poured red wine over the grave; anybody know the symbolism of that? I don't, and neither did any of our friends. Blood of Christ?

We scattered a bit of koliva (boiled wheat) over the grave, too. At least I know what that means; it symbolizes the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection, for Christ said that unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and "die" it cannot grow into a new wheat plant.

Greek graves are different from ours. One reason is that the bones are usually dug up after 3 years, cleaned, and stored in an ossuary. This makes space for another burial, the available land being in short supply.

So Greek graves have a headstone, which apparently stays there no matter who is currently occupying the plot; to this is affixed a marble plaque with the name of the reposed person carved into it, along with the dates.

At the foot of the grave is something like a narrow marble cabinet. It may contain a glassed-in frame, built in, for displaying a photo of the deceased. It may have another place for an icon, an attached vase, an attached oil lantern, a locked comartment for storing candles, matches, incense, oil. It is also carved with the name, birthdate and death date of the deceased.

All these are already in place at Kostas' grave.

How can a person be here one day and so completely gone the next? Ths sad, brutal truth that hit me as I looked around at our friends is, we are all going to bury one another, unless we go first. (Demetrios says I shouldn't say that, so I didn't, in company; instead, I write it here.) I miss his sly grin when he was about to tell a joke, and his giggles afterward. He was the only man I ever knew who giggled - except of course for his best friend, Demetrios. He giggles, too. I miss his resounding bass voice, so dramatic when passion crept into his arguments; how I wish I could have heard him in court, arguing a case!

We spent the weekend with Mena, his widow, at her country house. The temperatures ranged between 100 - 110, and she had no air conditioning. So it was misrable, made more so by mosquitoes and cigarette smoke, as several our our friends are smokers.

She has invited us again for Monday, with promises of swims in the Meditteranean, but I intend to beg off unless she has her new air conditioner installed by then.


elizabeth said...

Memory Eternal! Lord comfort!