These Connected Graves in the Netherlands Prove Love Conquers All

Frank Janssen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Frank Janssen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Established in 1785, Het Oude Kerkhof in Roermond, the Netherlands, is one of the oldest municipal cemeteries in the country—and it's home to a pair of graves that use a crafty design to prove love can conquer anything.

As author Loren Rhoads explains in her new book 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, in 1842 a 22-year-old Catholic noblewoman named J.C.P.H. van Aefferden fell in love with a 33-year-old commoner named J.W.C. van Gorkhum, a colonel in the Dutch cavalry who happened to be Protestant. Their marriage was a local scandal, but the pair stayed together for 40 years. Their union only ended with van Gorkhum's death in 1880, and even then, van Aefferden made sure they wouldn't be totally separated.

At the time, plots in Het Oude Kerkhof ("The Old Cemetery" in Dutch) were strictly divided into Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish sections, with borders maintained by thick hedges or brick walls. As a Protestant, van Gorkhum couldn't be buried in the van Aefferden family plot in the Catholic section, where she was supposed to spend eternity.

A photograph of two graves in Roermond, the Netherlands, known as Het graf met de handjes, or “Grave with the little hands.”
Door Janssenfrank Wikimedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

The devoted wife got around the predicament by ordering a unique pair of grave markers—two tall white monuments that stretch above the brick wall separating the Catholic and Protestant sections. From each monument, a white hand (one masculine, the other feminine) reaches out to grasp the other, their fingers locked for eternity.

Colonel van Gorkhum was buried beneath the grave with the masculine hand, at the edge of the Protestant section, and when his wife died eight years later, she was laid to rest beneath the grave with the feminine hand, at the edge of the Catholic section.

A close-up photograph of two graves in Roermond, the Netherlands, known as Het graf met de handjes, or “Grave with the little hands.”
Henk Kosters, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Nearly 130 years later, tourists flock to the graves, which are known locally as Het graf met de handjes, or “Grave with the little hands.” It's a beautiful reminder that when there's a will, love tends to find a way.

Airlines Are No Longer Allowed to Ban Service Dogs Based on Breed

chaivit/iStock via Getty Images
chaivit/iStock via Getty Images

As the species of service and emotional support animals have become more diverse, airlines have had to make some tough decisions. Birds, monkeys, and snakes have been barred from boarding airplanes with passengers, but even more conventional pets like dogs have been rejected based on their breed. A new rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) aims to change that. As Travel + Leisure reports, the agency now forbids airlines from discriminating against service dogs of particular breeds, including pit bulls.

Last year, Delta banned all pit bulls from flying, regardless of whether or not they were certified therapy animals. United Airlines also banned pit bulls last year, along with 20 other dog breeds, including pugs, bulldogs, mastiffs, and shih tzus.

Under the new DOT guidelines, these policies are no longer legal. The statement reads: "The Department’s Enforcement Office views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulation. The Enforcement Office intends to use available resources to ensure that dogs as a species are accepted for transport."

The new rule applies specifically to service animals, or animals that have been trained to perform a job that's essential to their owner's wellbeing. Emotional support animals, which don't require special training and aren't covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act, don't qualify.

Even if a pet is a certified service animal, airlines still have the right to reject them in certain cases. Air travel companies can request documents related to an animal's vaccination, training, or behavior history. If they find anything in the papers that indicates they're not safe to fly, airlines can turn them away on that basis.

In the same statement, the Department of Transportation clarifies which species of service animals should be allowed on flights. Miniature horses are now included on the list of service animals airlines must allow to fly, while ferrets, rodents, snakes, reptiles, and spiders are the only species airlines can ban outright.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

An 89-Year-Old Grandmother Is Visiting All 61 National Parks With Her Grandson

Sunrise in the Smoky Mountains National Park
Sunrise in the Smoky Mountains National Park
SeanPavonePhoto/iStock via Getty Images

The U.S. has 61 National Parks—including several hidden gems—but some people haven’t been to a single one. Until 2015, Joy Ryan was one of those people. Her adult grandson, Brad Ryan, told her about a hiking trip he once took on the Appalachian Trail, and Joy said that in her 85 years, she had never seen a mountain—except on TV—or an ocean. When her husband was still alive, the couple would drive to a lake in Florida, but avoided the coast.

“She told me at that time that she really, really regretted that she didn’t get to do more of that type of thing and have more experiences in life,” Ryan told CBS News. Joy, now 89 years old, lives in Duncan, Ohio, a “two-traffic light town.” She spent most of her life working a minimum wage job and raising three sons, two of whom died young. She’s a leukemia survivor, and in recent years has battled pneumonia.

In 2015, when Ryan was attending veterinary school, one of his classmates committed suicide. To cope with the tragedy and because life is short, he invited Joy on a three-day camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, where she finally got the chance to see some mountains in real life. The adventure went well enough that in 2017 it inspired the unlikely pair to start a GoFundMe campaign so they could hit up all 61 parks. Flash forward to 2019, and the duo has visited 29 parks, and counting.

So far, they’ve visited 38 states—Alaska and Hawaii are next—and driven 25,000 miles in the past three and a half years. One time a moose chased them, but according to Joy, of the animals they've seen, a prairie dog is her favorite.

Ryan told the BBC that this time with his grandma has inspired him, and he’s liked looking at the world through her eyes. “It helped me to slow down—the way she would notice the little things like the color of the mushrooms on the ground,” he said. “I was focused on goals, like climbing the mountain, but sometimes it’s not all about the epic views; it’s about enjoying those little moments, too.”

To see where they end up next, you can follow Grandma Joy’s Road Trip on Instagram.

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