Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day

When I was little, my grandmother would take me to the cemetery with her a few days before Memorial Day so that we could tend to the graves of loved ones who had passed on. First, we would gather up the tools needed to clean grave stones and clip grass. Then we would select the best flowers from her garden. The back of her car would be filled with roses, carnations, sweet william, azalea blossoms and many other flowers. Irises were her particular favorite. After the car was packed, Grandma would drive us up to the cemetery so we could decorate the graves of family members and people she knew. My grandmother lived 38 years longer than my grandfather, a ship-builder in World War II. This Memorial Day observance was a yearly vigil for her; one that Stephen and I have continued since her passing in 1998.

I've noticed that there are more stones to clean and decorate as the years go by. This year, there were 10 of them. When we were through, we talked about how much we missed those who had influenced our lives, reflected on lessons learned from each of them, and how we might make our own lives more meaningful. Cleaning grave stones and decorating with flowers may be a small thing, but its become a tradition of honoring our elders and those gone before us.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories. As a young girl growing up in Western Washington in the 1940's, Memorial Day was somewhat like you mention.
My Grandfather was an old coal miner, his family coming from Wales in the 1890's to work the soft coal mines of King and Pierce Counties. He had a concern for all graves, but mostly the unkept graves of old miners. There were a couple a abandoned grave yards in the town of Wilkeson where I lived. For a couple of weeks prior to Memorial Day, we would load up the car with all types of gardening tools and head for the graves. The bugs were always out by then, and we were bitten to pieces. Grandfather was a hard worker, we did not take any breaks, we were there to work. It was the only special family time that I ever remember our having, but we were on a mission. The wild blackberry bushes and anything looking like a weed was dug up. Then, as you say in your message it is now Memorial Day. Grandma had a 36 Dodge coupe, and she filled that car with the flowers that were already blooming in her yard (that part is hard to remember, here in Alaska our tulips are in bloom, and nothing else yet) off she went, to make sure fresh flowers decorated all of those graves..........Years have past, my Grandparents are gone, we have a small daughter buried beside them, and no family anywhere around. I hope that others still have the vision of my Grandfather and that those 3 graves precious to me were remembered by someone this year. Thank you for the tears, and the memories.

Linda Hancock said...

Honoring that family tradition is such a good thing. I am glad to hear that you are keeping it up. I would love to do that. My family graves are scattered to the 4 corners of the country and in between. I guess we have been a traveling bunch! Sometimes it's a lonesome feeling, but then I remind myself that some day we will be reunited in person in heaven.

Blessings,
Linda

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your "Blog". Keep up the good work.

Linda Kay Williams
Salem, OR