We do this every year if we are in town for Memorial Day. I think it’s a nice tribute to pay to our loved ones who have passed to the next world. Mom and Dad both loved flowers, so while I know they are so joyous in heaven, it makes me happy to give them this reminder that they are not forgotten here on earth. I really do it for myself, of course.
When I was a little girl in Columbus, we took flowers to our grandparents’ graves every Memorial Day. Mom would pick peonies (she had a whole hedge of deep rose-colored peonies next to our garage) and add in blooms of iris that grew on the south side of the house. She put the flowers in a basket, filled a jar with water, and off we went to St. Bonaventure Catholic Cemetery where she placed a pretty bouquet of flowers in the cemetery vases provided.
The cemetery is old but well-maintained. Despite its size, she never had trouble finding the headstones of Grandmother and Grandfather Micek. Next to their large headstone is a smaller headstone indicating the grave of one of Mom’s brother’s, who died a bachelor. There is also a grave of an unknown (to me) relative, who I would imagine was a sister of my grandma or grandpa. Shoulda asked…..
After paying our respects at St. Bonaventure Cemetery, we drove a short distance to Rose Memorial Gardens, where my paternal grandparents rest. Gramps died in 1969, but Grammie didn’t die until we had left Columbus and moved to Colorado. We left flowers there as well.
After Mom and Dad moved from Columbus, it was a very long time before I ever went back to the cemeteries. But a number of years ago, Bill and I were in town for one of my class reunions, and I decided to find the graves. We went to St. Bonaventure first, and walked right up to the stone, finding it immediately despite the fact that the cemetery is the old-fashioned kind with many granite stones marking the towns’ dead. But when we went to Rose Memorial Gardens, we walked and walked and walked and simply couldn’t find the headstone. This cemetery is – as its name states – a memorial garden, meaning no upright headstones. That makes it a bit harder to find the grave marking.
So Bill got the idea to go to the city library and look it up, something I wouldn’t have even known you could do. He learned the location of the stone, and we returned to the cemetery. Voila!
I don’t think people who aren’t part of the Baby Boomer generation feel the same way about cemeteries and ancestors’ graves as do we. We learned it at our parents’ feet, and they learned it at their parents’ feet. The reality is that we are so mobile these days that it is unlikely that Generation Xers or the Millennials or whatever our kids and grandkids are called these days even live in the same town as their ancestors. My guess is that the whole idea of paying respect to our deceased relatives came to a head following World Wars I and II.
I have a friend whose father, in his retirement, took to driving around the prairie towns of Nebraska looking for some of the old cemeteries, many of which had long been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. But he didn’t have just a prurient interest. Instead, he would use his own time and money to clean and repair the graves of the total strangers buried in these long-lost prairie cemeteries. I always thought that was a remarkable mission.
When Bill and I were last in Columbus (for another class reunion – we go every five years – Go Shamrocks!), we went to St. Bonaventure Cemetery and again found the Micek plot. Bill noticed the stone was looking kind of sad and dirty, so we went back into town, bought some cleaning products, and returned to wash and spruce up the grave. Bill, of course, never met my grandparents (I didn’t!), but it was important to him that the grave is well cared for. I’m telling you, we baby boomers are a good generation.
Anyway, back to Jen and my trip to the cemetery. In tribute to my mom, I also picked flowers from my backyard — iris and peonies and snowballs and columbine. I even clipped a stem from my geranium to put in Mom’s vase as she did love her some red geraniums! Fort Logan – being a National Cemetery – was very pretty as it is every year on Memorial Day. Little flags mark each and every grave, and large flags line the streets. While there is nothing prettier than an old well-kept cemetery, I am happy that Mom and Dad are buried at Fort Logan as it is always well-maintained and pretty. Bill and I will end up there too.
Funny post today, and hopefully not too macabre. I hope everyone had a good weekend, and gave at least a passing thought to those who went before you.