Hello folks, it’s been quite awhile since I blogged, although I have thought of a lot of articles. So perhaps I will do better this summer.
Memorial Day is one of my many Family Holidays that I remember as great family fun. My folks probably didn’t plan it that way, it was a day to honor our dead relatives, not just service members but everyone. I believe, what my siblings and I enjoyed was a tradition that had been going on since my mother’s father and grandfather died, which would have been around 1918. My mother’s father died of the flue at the time of a flue epidemic that killed around 50,000 around the globe. Remember, no medicine to fight it at that time. My mother was 4 or 5 yrs. old at that time. A few months later her grandfather died of mouth cancer from smoking a pipe or cigar. They were the first graves in our family plot at the Catholic Cemetery in our town. My father’s family also had a family plot, because years before his father had died in his 60’s, his aunt had died when he was growing up, 2 sisters had died of TB, and one had died at birth. Also, my cousin’s father and sister were buried there. If I remember correctly, that was the way the cemetery situation was when I first remember memorial day.
My earliest memories were of my younger brother, myself and my parents. Other siblings were added later. About 9:00am we would be finished breakfast and the kitchen cleaned up, when my grandmother, great grandmother, one maybe both of my mother’s two sisters would arrive and sometime my older cousin, when she was on leave from the Waves. (Women in the Navy). The family members changed as some died and the men came home from the war but the tradition continued on even after I left home, if I made it back for Memorial day, the tradition was about the same.
This was my mother’s side of the family, my father’s side had their own tradition. There would be the arranging of flowers, our lilacs and if some were alive, some tulips were added. The we all went up to the cemetery to put the flowers on the graves, both at my mother’s family and my father’s. Then we all stood there and said prayers for our dead relatives.
You will note that I never had grandfathers when I was growing up, they had all passed away before my parents got married.
Once we got home, my mother made sandwiches and we went to the park in town for a picnic. (I don’t remember it ever raining but if so, we would have picnicked at home). Then we walked from the park, about a mile to my grandmother’s home which was near the Post Office and the Town War Memorial. During the afternoon, there was a band concert and speeches at the Memorial. My memories go back to when I was around five or so, which was around 1943-45 during WWII. After the ceremonies, we went back to my grandmother’s house and visited. I remember all of us being out side or on her big closed in porch. Her house was big and interesting with places to explore. My grandmother’s brother lived on the third floor, and they were always there also. I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but our relatives were very loving, and my brother and I were the first grandchildren, so for awhile we were the main attraction and since during the week everyone was busy, this was great family time.
When I was in high school and in the band I was marching in parades, so wasn’t home for the cemetery visits, but always managed to make it to my grandmother’s house. Things changed thru the years as the older people died, but my parents kept up the Memorial Day tradition and cemetery visits until they couldn’t do it anymore, then my aunt and I took over, and then my husband and I. Last year, one of my younger brothers also started putting flowers on the graves, which is great, since I know the tradition will continue a little longer. We also used to get to go back to the cemetery to tend the flowers and pick them up when they died. We got to explore the other graves at that time and find some more relatives. You probably get that I loved and love family history.
There are a lot of graves there now, sadly, all the people that used to make our Memorial Day fun, have passed away. So by going to the cemetery and putting the flowers on the graves, saying the prayers for their souls, and saying thank you for wonderful memories and a wonderful life, we are honoring them. I don’t believe the town has a memorial service like they used to, but they still lay flowers at the War Memorial which has now grown to honor service people from several wars.
Now, here is what I was thinking about on Memorial Day this year. How did my relatives ever get to my house with all those flowers? They lived a mile away. and how did we all get to the cemetery which was a couple of miles up the road on top of a hill? No one had cars, and gas was rationed until after the war? My uncle did have a car, he was a sales man, so maybe they used his. After the war, my aunt and uncles had cars, but not in the beginning. My folks didn’t buy a car until they had the money(no loans for them) and I was then in High School. So I guess it had to be my uncle’s car, and the rest of us must have walked to the cemetery and we definitely walked to the park, another mile or so from my house.
I guess I will never have the answer to that question, but my memories of Memorial Day are lots of fun to think about. The most important thing was family, family time and the fact that my family did not forget those relatives that gone before.
I hope you had a blessed Memorial Day, and if you couldn’t visit your family’s graves, I do hope you stopped to think about your family members, ancestors, and said a prayer or two for them. My folks used to remind us that friends come and go, but you always have your family, good or bad, so make peace with them, and pray for them.