My Dear Community,
How do you remember Memorial Day as a five-year-old?
I remember going with mother to the nursery several days before Memorial Day. We bought armloads of bright red geraniums. Then, after supper on Thursday, we’d plant them in deep green metal window boxes.
The next day mother and I would load the geraniums into the car. And we’d drive for what seemed like forever to a prairie cemetery on the edge of Trumbull, Nebraska.
Mother would dig shallow trenches at the top of each of her parent’s headstones. We’d respectfully place the planters there for “Decoration Day”. Mother always made certain their graves were not barren of flowers.
Then on Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, we’d return and retrieve the geranium boxes. Those bright red geraniums would then grace the front porch of our farm all summer long.
Strange that as a young married adult I didn’t ‘remember’ this tradition. Instead, Memorial Day became ‘The First Day of Summer’. The day to picnic, play and relax.
Today, as I write this, I recall that ‘last’ Memorial Day of Mother’s life. We didn’t go to the cemetery with geraniums. I didn’t remember. Nor did she ask.
In this moment I have tears welling up and I wonder, Was mother too weak to ask? Was she just being her kind and thoughtful self because she knew I was too busy to remember?
As you read this, I’ll be back in Nebraska. My brother, Alan, and I are planning a quiet Memorial Day celebration. Which will involve loads of bright red geraniums.
We’ll place red geraniums on Mother and Dad’s graves. Then we’ll swing by to decorate Grandma Agnes and Granddad George’s graves. More red geraniums.
It’s been 22 years since that ‘last’ Decoration Day. But this year I will remember
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,