Ones you visit. How often you visit. What do you do when you visit.
I’ve wondered all day whether or not I should feel guilty about this post, but I’ve decided I’m good with where I am and it was not intended to make me feel guilty.
As stated previously, I don’t do death days, I do birth days. And, apparently, I don’t really do cemeteries either.
I’m not entirely sure why. But at the moment I’m wondering if it’s because we grew up so far away from family that until I watched my father be buried in the family plot in the Randolph Cemetery when I was 10 years old I hadn’t spent much time in any cemeteries, so I did not know until I dated my husband and we went early one Memorial Day morning to a service in one of the two Duchesne cemeteries that that’s what one does.
It’s not to say I didn’t remember my uncle, who was MIA most of my childhood* on Memorial Day. I just had no graves to decorate, and so I did not.
Now both my parents are buried 3 hours away and I still don’t decorate graves, unless I’m going that way anyway, in which case of course I would. Now that my mother-in-law is buried in the Duchesne Cemetery, I fully expect to leave flowers for her when I’m in town.
So I have to ask myself, why don’t I do cemeteries?
One, it may simply be habit – the way I was raised, as a result of being so far away from any to which I was connected.
Two, it may be avoidance. Death touched my early in my life and shaped me and maybe, especially after the last two months of so much loss and of and for the people I love, I’m not as ok with that as I thought.
Or Three, it may be simply the way I think. I recall the words heard by Mary at the empty tomb: “He is not here.” I don’t think of my loved ones–both loved and missed–hanging around the cold marble stone waiting for me to visit. Nor do I believe they would want me to mourn their deaths. I believe they would want me to celebrate their lives and honor their memories in what way speaks best to me and in spending time with loved ones still here.
I thought of Barbara Friday when I dropped by the Fabric Mill, which is right next to the Chuckarama where I last saw her alive, enjoying family and the warmth of the spring sunset. I thought of Barbara and my own mother Saturday as we attended the Payson Temple as one of our nieces–one who Barbara loved like a daughter–received her endowment. The Payson Temple was a solace to my mother during its construction and holds special memories of our family during Mom’s last months with us. I thought of my dad Saturday as I attended a garden party at a friends and found myself surrounded by lovely Brazilian women all speaking Portuguese–of which I understand all of 3 words–and sampled some favorite flavors from Brazil and recounted to the hostess how I was very nearly baptised in Portuguese.
I spent today fixing cinnamon French toast breakfast for what family could be here this morning and then later today fixing homemade potato salad (my dad’s favorite recipe I used to make for him) and baked beans for a small family BBQ. It was a good day to appreciate time spent with those who remain.
*Captain Robert Alan Rex
(For the first time ever, I realized the error in this article. My father passed away in 1983. Thank heavens it wasn’t in 1962, or I would have been an only child!)
[Day 123 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]