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  • Decoration Day

    2011 - 05.26

      When I was a little girl, back in the 19mublemuble, I knew it only as Decoration Day. I know it was declared Memorial Day, a day to remember those fallen in service to our country. By then I was a teenager (oops, almost gave my age away!) but our family had been decorating the graves of our loved ones, service members or not, for what seemed to be all my life. It was a big deal, right up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    “Who all is coming in this year for Decoration Day?” (This always has sounded odd to me; “coming in” denotes that someone has been “out” and I never felt that way about anyone in my family. I know they were asking who would be traveling back “home” for the weekend, but still…) Most years everyone in the family, living that is, went to the family plot to visit the others, dead that is. All the ones we visited had been dressed in their very best to meet our Maker so we always dressed in our best to visit their final resting place on earth. We’d go from grave to grave, communing with the one resting there, some verbally, some mentally, but all emotionally. No matter how hot the sun felt on our heads, or how rain saturated our hair, we felt our duty, the very least we could offer them for all they’d given to us.

    The more members we lost from our family circle, the less strictly we adhered to the annual pilgrimage. Because I moved to another state nearly 25 years ago I don’t know if anyone left in my family decorates the graves this time every year. My grandmother and mother’s generations are gone, the oldest living generation is mine (what?? How the world did that happen?) and we’re not close as we were as children. We grew up, had our own families, fighting to pay the bills, you know how that goes. Life just gets in the way.

    My maternal limb of the family tree rests beneath a shady oak in a quiet spot not far from me; enabling me to go sit and chat with her any time I wish. As for the rest, every time I go home to East Tennessee, I put aside a large part of one day to spend with them. Mamaw was especially fond of Pool Room (not the actual name but it’s what we called it) hot dogs and a cold RC Cola. When I go for my visitation with Mamaw, I take one of those hot dogs, an RC, and sit right down to have a picnic with her. Nope, it’s not on Decoration Day, but it’s my personal way to honor her, to remind her, and Papaw, and Ruby, and Ronnie, and Charlene that all rest near her, that they’re never forgotten. I tell them that through the bad times and the good, the shining moments and horrendous mistakes, I love them still. They are what made me, me, and for what that’s worth, I’m grateful.

    And to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom, and those who came back home forever changed due to a war on foreign land, I offer you the only thing I have, the very least I can say: Thank You and may God bless.

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