Byblos

Byblos Castle in Jbeil, Lebanon

Byblos Castle in Jbeil, Lebanon

Byblos

Byblos, Lebanon, is the world’s oldest city. It is the home of the alphabet and if you listen closely you can hear the word Bible in the name. Byblos, so unique, is a renowned archaeological site with remnants of earliest stone age civilization as well as the bronze, with ancient Greek, Roman, and Crusaders influence. The site features a Crusader castle looking out over the sea. On that day in July of 1968 we visited the cave at Jeita and then went on to nearby Byblos, or Jbeil as it is called today. Rifaat, my husband to be, a few of his nephews and his niece came along with my mother, grandmother and sister Kathleen. My sister and I had climbed to the roof and I noted how hot it was in the blazing sun. We were summoned immediately, there had been a terrible accident. My grandmother, seeking shade, had sat on a stone bench in an 12 century Crusader castle. But there was a space behind the bench that opened to the floor below; none of us realized the danger. The unthinkable happened, she fell, Anna Gertrude Lyons, beloved and admirable lady, my grandmother. My sister and I huddled together in horror but we were prevented from seeing her. My nephews tended to her and theirs were the last faces she ever saw. They reassure me, she didn’t suffer. My brother-in-law Brahim, Chief Surgeon at the American University of Beirut at that time, tended to her and made arrangements to send her body to America. My mom and sister stayed for the wedding but it was just a ceremony, no food, no dancing, more a memorial to my grandmother than a wedding party. Anna Gertrude nee Reardon was a well-educated teacher when at that time women didn’t have careers. Her stories were of the great days in Quincy, being the belle of the ball, going to the opera in her opera coat, marrying Quincy’s most dashing, eligible catch, the handsome lawyer, Lawrence William Lyons. They had 5 sons, Lawrence, Jr., John, Robert, Gerald and Maurice. Gerald was my dad. The famous Reardons came from Ireland to Quincy with the granite industry and Quincy is Granite city. I often think I have granite dust in my blood. Both my father and I studied Geology. So stones are my thing. I treasured her and got to live with her in the college years. One thing I often think, could I have done errands for her, washed her long, silky hair, rubbed her feet? Tell her stories and listen to hers. How much I loved her; she was elegant of speech and dress. an absolutely beautiful role-model for those confronting the calendar and the clock, i.e. , time. Do this with your grandmas, grandpas or parents. It is part of our blood, like granite, it brings happiness and wellness. Now my grandmother is a part of the history of Byblos, the last Crusader death in the fortified castle.

Leave a reply