I sat at the prayer service. There were prayers for the soul of the faithful departed and songs of praise to our Lord. I couldn’t help but think…is this it?! Her time on Earth was done, tears fell from the cheeks of the loved ones, and some said prayers of relief that her Earthly struggles were now relieved. From this perspective, here was this century of life, all wrapped up and concluded with an hour long funeral service.
Today is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance of lose we have loved and lost and of our brave soldiers that gave their lives to this country. It isn’t a tradition in the strictest of senses but over the years we have found nearly every Memorial Day weekend we visit the nearby cemetery. It is just down the road, around the corner, and north of our home place (The Pioneer Community: The Power of Connection). We headed to our prairie cemetery as we were, with remnants of breakfast in the corner of the littlest one’s smile, tousled hair and dirty hands, and soiled mismatched clothing. Our oldest brought a bouquet of Great- Grandpa Sam’s favorite flowers, lilacs with some dandelions to complete the arrangement, he had picked that morning.
Our eldest sang “Proud to be an American” with his hand upon his heart firmly planted in front of the statue of the Crucified Jesus. Though clearly confused, I was proud he had the pieces present of reverence and remembrance this Memorial Day.
As we walked thru the cemetery, the headstone of one area woman caught my mother-in-laws eye…”Oh Rosemary… you would have liked her!” And stories of her talent and life followed. This, I thought, was “it”…not a stiff and formal funeral service with a guest book of supporters in your remaining family’s grief. This…these memories that come and go, that come as a part of oral and written history, from our family and those whose lives we have touched in the smallest or largest ones…this is what remembering our loved one’s means.
Those years of life have meaning in what is left behind, tangible and intangible. My boys never met their Great Grandpa Sam or Great Grandpa Frank, yet they know the stories and pieces left behind. Just as the memories get fuzzy… just when I can’t quite hear my Grandma’s voice like I used to a moment arises and I hear her words as clear as yesterday. There are pieces of her alive every day in my memories and mind. Every so often I look down to see a little feather amidst the blades of grass and think of her… a lover of angels and I think it is her little way of staying connected.
Being a farm family brings a unique remembrance. The stories of those before us are felt every day as we live on the land those brave pioneers before us settled. I think because we live a life so close to those before us, it is sometimes easier to feel their presence in our every day. My kids see the buildings built by the hands of a man they never knew but speak of regularly. As they climb the aged and towering Cottonwood tree, a quick story from the life of who planted it easily emerges. These simple stories of moments in time long-passed keep that person’s spirit alive.
There is a legacy . The inheritance isn’t in the form of wealth but in a way of life, of appreciation for the land and the creatures that live upon it. It a legacy of character. I am not sure our great grandparents, grandparents, and those loved and lost really put much thought into a formal and grand legacy to leave behind for the generations to come. They all seemed the type of people that got up each morning, did the best they could despite weaknesses and vices, worked hard, and provided for their family.
“Those we love can never be more than a thought away…for as long as there is a memory that lives in our hearts to stay.”
May this Memorial Day find you at peace, remembering the lives of those you have loved and lost. Gone from our sides, they have a special place in our hearts and minds.