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Featured in: Blood/sweat/tears, Family, Food, Nature

Grandfather the gravedigger!

By: Corinne45 | Dec 07, 2015 - 11:36 am

My grandfather was awesome. I loved hanging out with him because he loved the woods, animals and the sea. We went for walks together, went fishing together and he taught me lots of things about the world. And he taught me how to fish. He lived a tough but interesting life and had many jobs through his time. He fought in World War II, he was a carpenter, contractor, fisherman, furniture maker, and even a grave digger. Being a grave digger isn’t very glamorous, but life isn’t always glamorous. He was a hard worker, honest man and took the jobs that enabled him to feed the family. Not only was he a grave digger, but he was given the task of re-digging old graves. In other words, he would recycle old graves where dead people had been buried and make them ready for a new occupant. After a person has been dead under ground for 20 years, there is typically only slight fragments of bone left, if anything at all. Such is the power of nature. So my grandfather would open up an old grave, re-dig the hole, collect bone remnants (if any), and re-use the spot for a new dead body. Not a particularly easy job physically as digging loads of dirt is hard work. But neither is it a job for the faint-hearted. Or superstitious. Or easily scared. But my grandfather was a strong man. For the longest time, recycling these graves worked like a charm. But then something changed. My grandfather told me that at some point in the late 1970s, the remains of these bodies turned out to be more intact than before. The bodies had been under ground for just as long as before, but they decomposed much slower. And for each passing year, the bodies were more and more intact and in better shape. I imagine it wasn’t a particularly pleasant sight or experience to dig a hole in the ground and then have to dig up a partially decomposed body. As this got progressively worse each year, my grandfather was convinced it had something to do with the bodies themselves, and not the climate, temperatures or similar. He imagined it had to do with the amount of preservatives we eat through our food. This is a problem, not only at my grandfather’s churchyard, but in many, many other places around the world. And research has now actually shown that it is indeed preservatives added to our foods by the modern food industry that keep our dead bodies last longer. Not sure this is a good thing..

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