As a child, I remember Memorial Day as the day that Dad would cut roses and peonies from the bushes in our yard, and we would make trek from cemetary to cemetary laying them on the graves of our family members that had passed on. It didn’t matter much what order we did them in. We would lay flowers on the graves and listen to dad’s running commentary.There would be Hill cemetary in Bourbon where my great-grandmother, Alice Wright was buried. “She and grandpa had to live apart later on in life because they couldn’t get along.” The Oddfellows Cemetary….(on the west side of the road) for Uncle Billy Saddoris and the story of how he was killed in a car wreck while on leave from the Navy. (Oh look there is the grave of that person who died in the horrible car wreck.) Back in the back, over there, in the poor section is the grave of cousin Donald who died of strep throat. The big mausoleum that “Sunny Jim” Bottomley was buried in. (He had played for the Cardinals and retired to our town.) Across the street then to the East half of the Oddfellows cemetary to see the even bigger mausoleum (and they aren’t even buried in the ground.) Dad would read the names on all of the individual tombs and talk about those people if he knew them. Then on to Crow Cemetary where we would lay flowers on the graves of my great grandfather Felix Brake and my great grandmother Frances Caroline Maguire Brake. (That’s your Grandpa Fortner’s uncle Cleve over there.)
We would spend hours walking through the cemetaries, remembering those who had already gone on.
As an young adult, I found that tradition grim and unappealing, so I stopped doing it.
But….today….I think about it. There has been a long oral tradition in many cultures of remembering the dead and honoring their memories. In the telling of their lives, we are made aware of good deeds, the love of their families, their accomplishments and also of their trials, their faults, and their mistakes. These memories shape our own morals and can serve as shining examples of achievement, or not so shining examples of what to stay away from. Every one of us has our “to err is human” side, however, in death we tend to “forgive is divine.”
Which leads me to another thought. Is it possible (and I believe it is) that the pain and suffering of life keeps us from feeling someone’s love for us in a genuine way? Is that why when someone dies, sometimes, we feel their love in a stronger way? Because it isn’t being filtered through their own pain and suffering? Perhaps that’s why we see them through “rose colored glasses” then.
So…in the tradition of my father…I will make my “visitations” today, but in a virtual way…
Great Uncle Billy–whom I never met, but I believe saved my life…
Grandpa Brake–who was so very generous and kind.
Grandma Fortner–who made me laugh and made me feel loved.
Aunt June Adams–whom I miss ALOT
Uncle Jimmy Adams
Aunt Faye and Aunt Irma and Aunt Pat
Uncle Raymond Saddoris
Uncle Perk Brake–who’s love of music rubbed off on me.
And lastly…but definately not the least…
My mother, Alberta Brake, who’s love feels stronger to me today…than ever…