This lovely bouquet of peonies came from a friend. Peonies usually are blooming for Memorial Day here and lots of the older homes in our area have them in their gardens. They were often the flower of choice to cut and take to the graves.
When I was a kid, Memorial Day was for visiting our family graves. My mom always brought garden tools and a broom so we all could clean each headstone and leave a bouquet of flowers cut from our garden. My mom would often tell stories of that loved ones as we worked at their grave. Later we would have a BBQ and often a game of wiffle baseball with our cousins.
Since my husband and I have been married, both our parents have taken to going to the graves on the Friday before Memorial Day, when we all at work and school and the cemetery is quiet.
Since they’ve already gone, we don’t. For our kids, Memorial weekend is just a fun long weekend, when we go to the Patagonia sale, to a movie, swimming and a BBQ.
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The other day as I was walking down the hall at my kids’ school, a construction worker was putting visqueen on the walls in preparation for the major construction work being done at our school this summer. (Yeah! They are making our school much safer in the event of an earthquake. Right now it’s a deathtrap. Ikes.) Anyway, as I walked down the hall, I saw a face out of the corner of my eye, under the visqueen. It stopped me in my tracks.
It was the face of my grandmother, Maxine Morgan.
The photo was on a poster made by one of my girls for her ancestor report. The thick plastic covering the wall had laid just right to make her picture visible. And for some reason, when I saw her face, it made me feel a little emotional. I felt gratitude for her example of resourcefulness, hardwork, and her beautiful, cheerful smile. Even though I never knew her, I do know her- through the memories and many stories told to me by my mom.
It’s time to get back to essentials I thought. It’s time for my children to think of Memorial Day as more than just a time we pick up closeout ski coats and see big blockbuster movies.
It’s time to de-commercialize our holiday just a little, and spend some time remembering.