Friday, May 24, 2019

What Memorial Day means to me

I realize Memorial Day is meant to be a day to honor and remember the people in the armed forces who never came home from the wars, although I only learned it after I joined Facebook, I think, when someone shared a meme telling the difference between Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, and... some other day.  Yeah, I'm too lazy to look it up.  But when I was a kid, Memorial Day simply meant a day when we met up with relatives, went to some cemeteries and put flowers on the graves.  The grownups talked about the relatives who had gone on before; they all called it Decoration Day.  Maybe that's how I got my love of graveyards, because it just seemed like a happy holiday to me.  I liked walking through the tombstones, reading inscriptions and imagining what life might have been like for the people who died long ago.  Sometimes I'd make up stories in my mind about the little girl who died at the age of two, or the wife who died giving birth. 

I'd like to visit some relatives' graves on Memorial Day weekend, but I know how Cliff hates driving.  My family mostly lies buried in or near Harrison County in North Missouri, a two-hour drive.  Cliff's mom, dad, brother, and other relatives are in the graveyard at Versailles, Missouri.  That's a hundred miles to the southeast.  He'd take me because he loves me, but I hate to make him do it:  I realize the people who lie buried in those graves don't know the difference, whether we go or not.  I'm thinking I will ask him to take me to Kansas City, North, where my sister's husband is buried, taking some flowers to lay on the grave.  My sister Maxine has moved yet again, even further away.  When she was in her 80's, she decided she ought to move nearer her only son and his wife, so she moved to McPherson, Kansas.  Now her son and his wife are both retired; their two sons and their families live near Oklahoma City, and they wanted to move there to enjoy their grandchildren.  So they sold their house, my sister sold her house, and they bought houses down there.  Maxine (my sister) just moved this week.  I told her when she felt like company to let me know and we'll be there; that's a road trip Cliff will take me on any time.  Maxine recently had a heart attack, got some stints put in place, and was back to normal in a few days.  She is my only sister, the straightest arrow you'll ever find, and the best example of common sense, hard work, and a Christian woman of anyone I know except for Cliff's Aunt Gertrude, who is 93 and in a nursing home now. 

Three-day holiday weekends are no big deal to retirees, but I'm feeling sorry for the poor working stiffs who look forward to the time off, because if the weather forecast is right, it's going to rain every single day.  So far today has been a nice one, albeit rather warm and humid.  We went to the local U-pick strawberry patch up the road, Fahrmeier Farms.  We got there when they opened at 9 o'clock and picked more strawberries than we really could afford in no more than ten minutes.  It's all the berries we'll be able to eat this weekend, though.  And we can eat a LOT of strawberries!

Cliff did NOT want to be in the picture I took at the strawberry place, so he looked both peculiar and unhappy in it.  So instead, I'll share this picture from five years ago that came up on my Facebook memories of the grandson and him smoking a cigar. 

Gabe and I try to spend awhile every day in the hammock swing in the yard, with him gazing over at the neighbor's place watching for their three dogs to show themselves.

I'll leave you with a video taken in our small town's cemetery.  I made it while riding my horse, Blue, years ago.  The guy singing the song is Loudon Wainwright III, who wrote the theme song to M.A.S.H., "Suicide is Painless". 

Have a wonderful weekend.


Leilani Schuck Weatherington said...

Memorial day for us was going very early to a campground into the mountains outside of Los Angeles and my Dad setting up to cook pancakes for the church. Families began trickling in and we had a wonderful breakfast and played and then the Indianapolis 500 came on the radio and could be heard all over the camping area, and about that time Dad packed everything up and we went home. My folks did not visit the cemeteries where relatives were buried and did not believe in decorating graves, so that was not something we ever did.


Happy Decoration Day. that's what i grew up calling it too. my birthday is on the original may 30th holiday.

Margaret said...

My mom's birthday is traditional Memorial Day, May 30, so memories of the holiday are tied up with that. Like many people, I thought it was for putting flowers up at the cemetery which most still do, in spite of the real meaning behind MD.

The Feminine Energy said...

What a lovely story today, Donna.

Yes, I remember cemetery visiting with my Mom when I was young too. It was a matter of duty... and of love... to go "see" our loved ones who are dead & buried, especially on holidays. It didn't seem to matter if they were veterans or not, died in a war or not, Memorial Day was a time to go out to the cemetery, spruce up the grave sites, and pay our respects. Today's young people don't seem to feel the same obligation.

My Mom and I, when I was little, used to walk through the cemetery on a Sunday afternoon and look at the headstones too. I loved the ones with pictures embedded on the front. My Mom would also tell me about the various folks she knew and the stories she knew, about the headstones we'd come across.

Memories.... they keep my bones "warm" when I'm blue.

Happy Memorial Day~ Andrea xoxo