CONNIE’S MEMORIES-MEMORIAL DAY

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.

 

SHE PONDERED THESE THINGS IN HER HEART

by Rita A. Simmonds

I HAVE two boys, ages seven and eight. After Mass one morning a woman asked me, “What energetic boys! Are they your Grandchildren?”  Ouch! Though I did have my children in my early 40’s and technically that makes me old enough to be their grandmother, when I’m asked that question it always leaves a sting that can linger for hours, giving me plenty of time to be tempted by such thoughts as: You’re too old to have these overactive kids.  It’s obvious you’re not able to keep up with them. And then I get extremely angry with my children for being so visibly out of my control.

As the boys race out the door and down the sidewalk to greet their father who is just coming in from the night shift, I notice more than ever how he moves like an old man.  He has advance stage neuroendocrine cancer and is still fighting to live as normal a life as possible.  He’s also nine years my senior.  the boys enthusiastically offer to carry his bags. They know he’s not well, and they’re always more than happy to help. Later that day, my older son remarks, “Dad, even though you’re sick, you always have a smile on your face.”

I’m made to see that our children are given, not for me to control, but as a gift, as the spark and simplicity of God’s love that makes a noticeable difference in the world.

(Rita A. Simmonds is an award-winning poet who lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children)

A GLASS OF WINE AND HER ROSARY, 100 AT 7-3-2014

TODAY IS JUNE 29, 2014, OUR FAMILY AND A FEW FRIENDS, AROUND 80 PEOPLE OR SO, GATHERED TOGETHER TODAY TO CELEBRATE MY MOTHER’S 100TH BIRTHDAY.  WHEN WE ASK HER HOW SHE LIVED SUCH A LONG LIFE, AND HOW SHE MADE IT TO 100, SHE SAYS SHE HAS 1 GLASS OF WINE A DAY AND SAYS HER ROSARY BEADS EVERYDAY. 

Believe it or not, my entire family has been blessed, we have had illnesses but over all, our entire family is quite healthy, happy and they all have or did work hard, and have homes they worked hard for. The young and old have and do travel, done the things they want to do, and we have children, lots of children, and they are happy, healthy and well behaved and respectful. Well, not always well behaved, by you can’t have everything. But they are respectful, and more or less, mind their parents.  We have everything from lawyers, to social workers, to artists, lots of small business owners and lots of just plain hard working people. More hard working people and new business owners every year.   Why and how did this happen?  I believe that my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, the older generation, went to church, and not only on Sundays, prayed, said their Rosary, lots and lots of prayers, for all of us, THEY BELIEVED.  AND NOW SOME OF US BELIEVE, SOME OF US PRAY, AND SOME OF OUR YOUNGER GENERATION WORSHIP AND PRAY. I believe that as long as some of our family continues to BELIEVE AND PRAY AND THANK GOD EVERY DAY FOR WHAT HE HAS GIVEN FAMILY, we will continue to be BLESSED.  I hope so, anyway

Do I know this?  Do I know why our family has been so blessed? No, of course not, a lot of families believe and have not been so blessed, but, I know what I believe and I think my mother and family are certainly proof that GOD LOVES HIS PEOPLE IF THEY TRY TO DO WHAT HE WANTS. None of us are perfect, not everyone in our family believes, not everyone prays, but even then, they are good people, they are raising good and respectful children and they are obeying our laws which are based on the Commandments, and they are good citizens.

I PRAY DAILY THAT GOD WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE CARE OF AND BLESS MY MOTHER AND OUR FAMILY.

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THE GREATEST JOB IN THE WORLD -FOR ALL WONDERFUL FATHERS-JUNE 15

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, FATHERS.  I PRAY FOR ALL OF YOU, THAT GOD WILL BLESS YOU WITH PATIENCE, LOVE, UNDERSTANDING AND ABOVE ALL THAT YOU TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THAT JESUS LOVES THEM.  I ALSO PRAY THAT YOU WILL TEACH YOUR CHILDREN BY EXAMPLE, HOW TO PRAY, AND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO TAKE TIME OUT TO PRAY.  IT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN TO KNOW THAT JESUS LOVES THEM UNCONDITIONALLY AND NOTHING THEY CAN EVER DO CAN MAKE HIM STOP LOVING THEM.  GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND MAY HE GIVE YOU THE STRENGH TO TAKE CARE OF HIS CHILDREN THAT HE HAS ENTRUSTED TO YOU.

 

 

THE GREATEST JOB IN THE WORLD, BY Matt Archbold. ( I am going to skip some, you can read the whole article in the May Catholic Digest, in the HIS TURN section.)
….”After years in the newspaper business…..I left newspapers to raise my children. I had this crazy idea that children should actually see their parents once in a while. It is a crazy idea, right? They told me I’d be bored being a stay-at-home parent. Yeah, they actually said that. I’ll admit it’s been quite a shock for me, because raising children tends to involve a lot of “DOING”….. Parenting has changed me because a parent must be a doer or else nothing’s getting done……
Having kids means sleepless nights, talking, crawling, whining, playing, inexplicable stains on the wall, spills on the carpet, crazy crying, and skyrocketing fevers. Never mind the kids. There’s no avoiding one second of it. Bet here’s the thing–you don’t want to. …..
Many people tell you that you can’t fool children. But it’s not because they’re brilliant. It’s because they just don’t care about your excuses. You’ve go something going on? Don’t care. Feed me. You’re on the phone, Don’t care. Play with me. You’re working? Don’t care. Change me.
In the end though, something surprising has happened to me. I’m out of the bleachers. My children made me a doer. I’m now a go-getter, but a very reluctant go-getter. Believe me, now that some of my kids are joining sports and extracurriculars at school, sometimes I feel like all I do is take them places just so I can go get them.
And with all this doing and go-getting, I discovered something. I FOUND THE STORY. I FOUND MY STORY. And it’s so much better than a nuclear power plant explosion. (But oddly enough, smellier than a dumpster fire.)