All across the country families now make their way to cemeteries carrying Christmas wreaths and baskets filled with artificial holly, greens and pinecones and red velvet bows. Our dead should not be forgotten at this family time of year.
On August 4, 1892, two elderly, harmless people were brutally slashed and bludgeoned to death in the sanctity of their home, a place which should have been a haven of safety. No justice will ever come for the silent slain. The killer went on to live and prosper another day, and to celebrate Christmas.
Christmas 1892 left Lurana Borden without her brother Andrew. Lizzie and Emma Borden were fatherless. Nobody knows for sure if they both mourned deeply. It is entirely possible that they did.
In the Whitehead household on Fourth Street, Sarah and Little Abbie mourned. Mrs. George Fish, Abby’s sister was bereft. Abby and Andrew Borden were loved by some family members, surely- and liked by some neighbors and friends. The tragedy of their loss was felt. How did they feel standing at the grave, bare of a marker in the Christmas of 1892? The citizens of the city, demanding that someone be brought to trial for the deeds during that hot month of August had a suspect in jail- waiting.
How curious it is that in 2009, the victims become but a side note to the tragedy. It is the accused and aquitted whose name lives on. If one were to stop by Oak Grove Cemetery and leave a floral tribute to the victims, within hours it would find its way to the grave of Lizzie Borden- taken without a thought and re-deposited without a thought. Below the frostline now lay today what remains of the sad, frozen bones of Abby and Andrew Borden- still headless, – and now their likenesses and characters the fodder for irreverent cartoons, gift products and unspeakable accusations made without a shred of evidence. Those who once were loved and walked among us. Does the interval of Time allow for such insensitive liberties? Is murder ever a source for humor?
How we memorialize our Dead says a great deal about ourselves in these modern times- a thought to contemplate any day- and especially at this time of year.
An epitaph often seen on grave markers
Remember friend as you pass by.
As you are now so once was I.
As I am now so shall you be.
Death take thy hand, and follow me.”