Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday - Cleaning Tessie's Headstone

UPDATE: First thing to know is that this cleaning was done at the request of Donald's father, the only child of Charles and Tessie Calma. Since we did this I have been reading that even soft brushes are too harsh for a headstone. While I certainly would never have used them on an older stone, I still think we are OK using one here. Some people even say that unless you are going to make yourself perpetually responsible for a headstone, you shouldn't clean it at all. Please do your own research and make your own decisions. And please do not point to this post as an instruction that soft brushes are OK for any stone. Thank you.

When Donald had a death in the family last summer, we went to the burial at the same cemetery where his paternal grandparents are buried and paid our respects at their grave site as well as those of other relatives.

Donald's grandparents' grave site gets quite a bit more shade than the others and it was beginning to show in the accumulation of lichen on their headstone. On Sunday we finally did something about that. Here is the stone when we arrived.

Although this headstone only dates from 1975 when Donald's grandfather, Charles Calma, passed away, we still wanted to be very careful not to damage the stone, so we began by wetting it with plain water and applying wet cloths to soak the lichen or whatever the green growth was. It was a fairly windy day, so we only had moderate success in getting the cloths to stay, even when soaking wet.

Eventually we just took the cloths off and scrubbed and rinsed. We were making excellent progress but we realized (and I'm not sure why I didn't think to add them to my kit before this) that we would need some soft toothbrushes to really get into some areas, like inside those rose petals.

Also, we ran into a little hiccup when our gallon water bottle ran dry and we discovered that the cemetery hasn't turned the water on yet. Our guess is that will happen on June 1st when their "planting season" begins. Luckily we did bring a little drinking water for ourselves so we were able to get a bit more done and the Calma's headstone got a little Evian rinse!

We could have gone out for more water, but decided to wait until we go back with the toothbrushes in a few weeks. We just want to get it done before the humidity of summer begins. Here is what the headstone looked like when we left; much more clean and almost dry.

The little red and green spots you might notice under "CALMA" are actually reflections.

Donald was very pleased. He did not believe that we would make this much progress with just water and soft brushes.


Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

Wow! Amazing what a little water and I'm sure a lot of elbow grease did for his headstone. It looks so much better.

Anna Matthews said...

It was a bit of work, but not as much as I would have thought for this result. It almost looks like we bleached it, heaven forbid!