Ryan van Emmenis, the owner of Cleaning Helps, from Cheshire, England, and his three young children have been working hard at doing good for others amid the spreading pandemic of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
In the times when many are unable to visit the gravestones of loved ones, the Van Emmenis family’s service to clean headstones at local cemeteries makes it worth appreciating. Whether the headstones are brand new or centuries old, the professional cleaner dad and his three children have been hard at work, all the while paying respect to those who have passed away.
Van Emmenis first got the idea to start cleaning headstones when a friend posted a picture of his sister’s graves on social media, reported The Gazette.
The friend’s picture showed a gravestone that was dirty and weathered, and Van Emmenis knew he could do something about it. So he offered to use the free time he’s allowed outside each day as a part of quarantine lockdown to go and clean the headstone.
“I thought ‘I can do this more,’” he told the PA news agency.
Van Emmenis said when he is out on his walks, he comes across some churches that have “some really old headstones and tombstones.” He planned to take a little brush and some cleaning products with him and help clean “a bit each day” on his short breaks. He spends about one hour each day on each headstone, which can take a few sessions per stone to fully clean.
“You see results and you’re like ‘oh, this is great’ so I just wanted to keep doing it,” he said.
Van Emmenis’s three children—Brooke, 12, Lana, 4, and Larsson, 3—have found a way to get involved in this act of kindness.
The children don’t handle any of the professional cleaning chemicals when they help their dad out. However, as Van Emmenis tidies everything up, the budding little experts work on brushing the headstones while learning from their father about respecting history and respecting those who have already passed away.
“You’ve got to be respectful of the fact that it’s someone’s family member, it’s someone’s memories,” he said.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re using the right products and you’re being careful and delicate with it,” he added. “Some of these headstones I’m cleaning are over 100 years old.”
Van Emmenis told the news outlet that people have reached out to him to thank him for being able to clean up the headstones of their loved ones; some even said that they hadn’t been able to stop by and pay the headstones proper attention in a while.
“When a grave is dull and it’s got algae on it and you can’t read it,” he said, “there’s [sic] nobody seems to give it much time if they don’t know the person.”
“Once you’ve cleaned up one of these graves, it’s really noticeable, which means people are stopping and taking a moment to read and remember these people,” he added.
“A little bit of patience, care, and attention and a soft bristled [sic] brush with a bit of soapy water will do a fantastic job,” Van Emmenis told the news outlet.