There are many things that my parents and grandparents taught me over the years. Things like: you go to church every Sunday, you go to school unless you need to see the doctor, and you decorate the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day with whatever flowers are in bloom. This is Memorial Day and true to my upbringing, I went on Saturday to decorate the graves.
I remember as a child going to grandma and grandpa's big peony bushes and cutting the largest pink, red and white flowers we could find. We had big tomato soup cans with the labels cut off and the tops removed. They were filled with water. We would stuff those flowers in until they literally could not move. We also would find lilacs and irises to add to the mix. They were beautiful and smelled wonderful.
Then we would make the trip to the various cemeteries. We started in Butler with a cousin I never met. He was about three years older than me and had died either in birth or very, very young. Then we would go to cemeteries in Steuben County where my dad's family was buried. I never knew them either. The thing I really remember most is that Kris and I would walk around and look at all the markers and kind of make up stories about the people buried there. The areas were always so peaceful and quiet.
Now, I buy the artificial flowers because I don't have peony bushes and only a small amount of lilacs and irises. Not enough to fill even a small soup can. The Big D and I take a scrub brush and a trowel. We clean the stone and pull the grass away. Last year we even bought new pots for the graves of my grandparents because they were slowly chipping away with age. I always use the red, white and blue theme for their pots. I just feel grandpa would like that. He was the flower lover in the family.
Being in those quiet, peaceful areas brings back memories of the times I spent with those loved ones. I feel proud that I can be the one who carries on this tradition. I secretly imagine Grandma and Mom saying, "Yep, Kathy remembered again. I guess she remembers some of the things we tried to teach her." Actually, I remember more than they would ever have believed possible.
As this Memorial Day draws to a close, I just want to stop and say thanks to the wonderful job those people did while raising me. I wouldn't be the person I am today without their love and support. Thanks!