Coming home tonight the traffic was a mess...even worse than usual. I realized it was a Friday, but it was even worse than your normal run of the mill rush hour Friday traffic, and then I remembered, oh yes, it's Memorial Day.
What do you do on Memorial Day? Do you take a trip, go hiking, have a barbeque, water ski, etc. etc.? Now please don't misunderstand, those activities are all worthwhile especially when you share them with family or close friends.
In my family Memorial Day was to remember...family members, soldiers that my Papa fought and died with in World War II, any that had passed into the next part of our eternal journey. We would spend Memorial Day weekend going to pretty much every cemetary between Kaysville, UT, and Archer, ID. OK, that's an exaggeration but when I was REALLY young it seemed that way. Actually there were only five cemetaries that we went too almost every year.
Now this is the part that may seem strange for some people to understand, we had SO MUCH FUN! Mama would fill the trunk with beautiful flowers that she cut from our garden. They would be in giant cans filled with water. (In later years we bought silks, not as messy). The fresh flowers smelled MUCH BETTER!
We would pack HEAVY...well at least my Mama. I seriously think she planned for EVERY eventuality! Hey, we could break down somewhere rural, and then we'd REALLY need a blanket in May, right? I often thought that if I dug down into Mom's suitcase, and boxes, and boxes I would most assuredly find the kitchen sink, nestled safely. On the other hand, when I was eight and we WERE in a car wreck, and the other car needed padding to stop bleeding, you guessed it, MY MAMA WAS PREPARED!
In the car we would take turns singing. My beloved Papa used to say that our family didn't always sing WELL, but we did sing LOUD! Hey, the scripture says, "Make a joyful NOISE..." We would each take a turn and choose a song to sing. One of my very favorites was "Old Grumbler is dead and laid under the ground." Pretty good subject matter for Memorial Day weekend.
We also played a festive game called "Beaver." To this moment I have NO idea why it was called that. It had NOTHING to do with Beaver's. It involved looking for certain items on a long list, such as a school bus filled with children (on Memorial Day weekend that one was pretty scarce!) If you were blessed enough to find a white horse or a privy with the door open you got to shout out BEAVER, and you WON immediately. Thank heavens they had more privies back then, with more open doors. Now if you can even find a privy the door is probably warped shut!
So, part of the fun was having Mama and Papa talk about the ancestors that we were visiting. My great-grandpa, Mayor of Brigham City, and his lovely wife. My little brother who died during birth. (He was beautiful, perfect, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck).
When we arrived at Archer, our final destination we would usually be there on Memorial Day itself. That was on purpose because if you landed there on Memorial Day it was better than a family reunion. I believe Papa was related to most of the people in that quaint little cemetary. I say it was better than a family reunion because I could go sit in the car and read if I got bored listening to adults chatting about this, that, and the other. (Reunions I was expected to stay, and listen, even when the discussion was BORING.)
This year is very tender for me. My beloved husband has joined the ranks of those we remember. He passed away in January of this year. Yet, he will never really pass away, not from the memories of those blessed enough to know and love him.
This year, I will no longer traverse the road between Kaysville, and Archer, but I WILL travel far in my memories, remembering, remembering, and treasuring all those that I have loved long since but lost awhile. I will remember them all with joy and gratitude for their influence in my life. Even great-grandpa Blackburn (the mayor) that I never met in this life. His example of strength in the face of adversity continues to inspire me.