Memorial Day brings to mind an American holiday that is somber, yet joyful.
Somber, in that we remember those we loved, who are no longer with us, and joyful because they blessed our lives with their presence. Some we lost before they could fully reach their potential and others who stayed with us long enough to nurture and teach us.
Every community and family celebrates Memorial Day in their own unique way, from parades and speeches, to family gatherings and decorating grave sites and markers of their own departed and fallen.
I was intrigued, as a girl, when I tagged along on the annual pilgrimage to the cemeteries and tombstones of our departed family members. What was so interesting to me were the ornate carvings and verses that each headstone displayed.Some were, of course, spiritual in nature and some were more personal. It was like walking through a library of my ancestors, and friends of our family.
My dad’s family, for the most part, were buried in the rural cemetery I talked about in my last post. A few had opted for the city cemetery. My mother, being a transplant from California, didn’t have any graves to decorate, but she did go along with my grandmother and dad to help with their decorating.
When I was very young no one really used plastic or Wal-Mart wreaths. Real plants like peonies, and irises were planted beside the graves or mom would make a pretty bouquet out of the flowers she had in the yard. She’d arrange them in a Ball fruit jar wrapped in foil.
Mom was not as hung-up on going to the cemetery as was her in-laws. Her philosophy was that they (the departed) weren’t there anyway! It was especially hard for her when my brother, Stan, was killed in Vietnam. She knew he was buried there, but she’d always looked heavenward when she stood at his tomb.
My brother’s death brought a new awareness of Memorial Day to me. I did not skip and hop between the graves as I once had, but stood still and remembered the brother I once played with, tattled on, and loved. It was personal now, this cold stone marker. It was more than a long ago deceased relative.
Now I understood, the somber faces and bowed heads–hands clasped before a loved one’s grave. They were remembering and honoring the life that now laid quiet under the lush, green grass.
It’s good to remember, and take a day to commemorate those lives lost in battle.
It’s good to remember the infant or child that might have added joy to a mother and a father.
It’s good to remember a wife, mother, husband, or father who we miss with all our hearts.
It’s good to remember grandparents, aunts, and uncles— sisters, brothers, and cousins who contributed to our circle of history.
And, it’s good to remember their sacrifices so we might appreciate who we are because of them.
Blessings to all my readers on this special day, Memorial Day.
In memory of my childhood friend, Charlotte Smith Hodson. One of the sweetest and bravest women I’ve ever known.
My brother, Sp4 Stanley D. Ross, gone too soon.
My Dad, Russell H. Ross
My Mom, Rose Cina Ross
P.S…If you’d like to add a comment or remembrance, please do so.