Today was Memorial Day 2017, sunny and warm. Warm not only with sunshine, but with memories; and warmed with the family and friends who are not memories, but present blessings. Like my dad who called with a convincing offer to peel and cut up my peaches for me. Yes sir-ree I hauled that box of Georgia peaches into town and left them for him and his wife to work up. They already “had a system going” he said, as they were working up their own peaches too. Daddy always has had a system, an organized way of doing anything. I believe he would plan ahead exactly which shoe he would tie first and which direction the string would wind around the loop!
After a morning of caring for our visiting ‘granddog ‘, as well as our own puppy recovering from his first bout of stomach bug, and the usual Monday mundane chores, we joined our son for a good Zaxby’s meal. Following the required weekly trek through Wal-Mart, we drove to the edge of town to Murray Memorial Gardens where my mother and father-in- law, and my own mother are buried. We parked under a tree for shade, and walked back to the place where my husband’s parents had selected for their vault. Names on a wall are all there is to see of them. I chose to honor them by naming aloud something I remember about each one, and for the others we were about to visit.
For Maxine, my mother-in-law, I said, “the best turkey ever – nobody has ever cooked one better!” I can almost smell that aroma now. I added, “And a simple country dinner plate on a summer work day with a glass of iced tea so sweet I could have diluted it into 3 glasses”. I think she would be happy with my memory. Pointing to my father-in-law’s name, I said “Hundred dollar bills” and smiled because of the way he had occasionally dropped one into our hands and was offended if I resisted, saying there was no reason for him to do that. He replied, “because I want to, and it’s mine to give”; kind of the way Carvis Sanders handed out gum at church when I was a kid. Except he was more consistent with a piece of Juicy Fruit every Sunday.
Walking past grave markers that had little American flags standing beside them, I said aloud, “thank you for your service”. I didn’t know any of those people to remember something about them, but I remember what I have read and heard about war, and I shudder. I remember what so many of them were fighting for and I am grateful.
As I approached my mother’s burial-place, I was pleased to see her Mother’s Day flowers were still intact, pretty purple blooms in the one provided urn that memorial gardens allow. The spot is atop a rise and overlooks a pretty pond, shade trees, and a white fence. It also overlooks the place we’ve selected for our remains, and most of the other burial sites. I like that it reminds me of how my mother stood at least a head taller than most, making her pretty white hair easy to spot in a crowd. Like the day I passed the cardiac rehab room on my way into work in the winter of 2008-09, and there was my mama on a stationary bike dressed in a beautiful purple outfit with an Angora type sweater, not work out clothes, and her white hair shining. She was doing more panting than pedaling, but she was doing what she could. On her grave marker today lay a single white silk rose that had come off of a nearby arrangement and I laughingly said, “Mama, have you been picking somebody else’s flowers?” She sure loved and successfully grew beautiful flowers. She also was known to pick a few elsewhere. I took the bloom back to its intended recipient and nestled it into the bouquet. Next I said “Could I have just a little bitty bite of that?” and my husband and I laughed because we teased her a lot for saying that if you were eating something that she was not. Next I said, quoting her, “Trisha, that hospital is gonna be there when you’re dead and gone!” followed by “I lived up to it Mama, I left it”, and then as I was turning to go, I said “I love you muchy muchy!” as that was the way she had started saying goodbye in the last few months of her life. So, my memories aloud to her were of sharing (both directions), concern for her children, and much love.
As we drove away, the radio was playing “Gentle On My Mind”. I love remembering good things about people no matter how many wheat fields and back roads pass between us. Those memories keep them gentle on our minds.
I got a call from a neighbor later this evening about an incident with her husband who is dealing with cancer and the gazillion treatments for that. As we were taping up some scrapes on his arm together, we small talked and laughed. He recalled that his mother grew zinnias in her garden and it helped to keep the bugs off the vegetables. Before I left, she gave me a pretty bird feeder that was a gift in memory of my husband’s dad. I felt like Memorial Day had come full circle.
I came home feeling so thankful for every day God has given me to enjoy family, friends, nature, and memories. As Garry Evans reminded us yesterday, we all have One in common to remember today and every Lord’s Day; the one who gave the ultimate gift, His life for us.