There are so many things we forget: keys, passwords, New Year’s Resolutions, important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. We also forget to take medicine, get things at the store, pay bills, return calls or answer emails. But there are some things we should always remember.
This Memorial Day, our daughter Molly and our grandchildren, Grace and Gannon, drove with me to Fort Scott for the weekend. We went to visit my mother, to take her fun foods, and to sing songs and read to her, hold her hand and talk to her until she fell asleep at night. It was our way of making contact and thanking her. Without her, none of us would be here.
People were scattered throughout the cemetery adorning other tombstones when we took fresh silk flower bouquets to my father’s gravesite. We removed the faded silks and greenery from the marble vases at each end of Dad’s headstone, and we put bright bouquets of spring flowers in their place. As we paused for a few private words and thoughts, we left pennies lined up along the top as a reminder we’d been there.
Molly divided the extra flowers into four groups, one for each of us. We went our separate ways to find neglected tombstones—no newer than 1899—in need of care, attention, and kind words. It was a serious, touching time, each of us showing respect for a stranger who had been forgotten.
Author Tess Gerritson wrote: “Only the forgotten are truly dead.”
It’s also a lesson for remembering the living. Poet W.H. Auden wrote, “And none will hear the postman’s knock ~ Without the quickening of the heart ~ For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?”
When the four of us returned to my mother’s apartment, she was waking from a nap. We sat around her and told her about the flowers we’d taken to Dad’s grave, and how nice it all looked. She smiled, then asked, “What about my sister Wanda? She deserves flowers, too.” I explained that Wanda was in Tennessee (I didn’t say she was buried there) and I was certain her children visited her with flowers, too. Mom smiled and nodded.
Then we put fresh flowers in a vase and set it next to Mary Elizabeth—nicknamed Mary Ibbeth by her siblings—because she deserves flowers, too. On Memorial Day special care must also be given to remind the living how much they are still appreciated.