Today is Memorial Day. The media was full of the usual militaristic platitudes. As I was going down the elevator this morning one of the older residents got in with a younger man who was probably a nephew, I heard the older man say as they were entering "we called it decoration day."
Observing the usual decorum [which I might not do if it were someone I wanted to get into a conversation with but I'm happy ignoring this guy] I didn't say what I thought which was "that's what we called it too." When I was small this was the day we drove to the cemetery in Dry Ridge, Kentucky where my father's parents and four brothers who died young [too young for the military] had been buried. If the peonies had come into bloom we took a bunch with us. The cemetery was beside a small church. My parents took clippers and cut the grass around the graves and "decorated" them with the peonies, or maybe with whatever was blooming. After some years, I suppose when the deaths had become older memories, we stopped going.
We were not a family that told stories. I know Uncle Shorty died in his twenties of TB, the three who died younger I suppose died in a flu epidemic but I don't really know. My father's parents couldn't have been over 60 when they died, both before I started grade school. [Dad was second oldest in the family of seven] I don't think they died in accidents, it must have been disease. I suppose their graves are never "decorated" anymore. I'm sure my own parents graves which are quite close to where my brother lives are not "decorated." It has become a meaningless holiday for all of us. The flowers above were at the Conservatory garden, they were familiar although I don't know their name either. I'm limited to roses, lilies, tulips, daisies and other truly common flowers.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!