Sunday, May 26, 2013

Flower Gardens...

Memorial day has always been a weekend that my family meets up and goes out to decorate gravesites.

There have been several years that we haven't joined them because Miranda is buried in Iowa while my mom and other lineage are buried in Holton, Kansas and the surrounding area.

From the time I was little, Memorial Day has been a big deal in our family. We would travel to Holton, Kansas to spend the weekend on the farm with my grandparents. My grandparents lived in a very old farmhouse. They had running water but they also had a cistern well on the porch that we used for water needs that didn't involve cooking. I LOVED cranking that cistern well!! It was SO much fun to watch the wheel and cups go around and come back up with water to dump into the spigot.

We drank our water out of cleaned "Archie and the Jugheads" jelly jars that had turned into glasswear, we had bread and butter on the table at all times that we ate with every meal, lava soap near the sink to wash with, chicken and dumplings that Aunt Kate made every year, Grandma's apple pie (and I got to eat the extra crust pieces she baked with cinnamon and sugar on them JUST for me), and I got to be a total tomboy all weekend in the out buildings and pastures and ponds.

At night, we slept in beds that we had to "air out" to make sure there were no mice in them...and we used chamber pots in the middle of the night. Really!!  We even had bowls and pitchers upstairs for sinks to wash our hands and faces in.  The cellar was filled with canned fruits and vegetables they had grown. They had one black and white tv with rabbit ears that got one channel in very fuzzy after it took about 5 minutes to "warm up" although I don't really remember watching tv there because we were way to busy playing outside.

I have great memories of being at my grandparents' for the weekend!! As we grew older, and so did our parents, we often got to stay in town at a hotel to avoid those mice in the bed, but it was never the same. It was also air conditioned and that wasn't all bad either! :)  PLUS..the lobby of the hotel had a COLOR Television that had Charlie's Angels on it..and Fantasy Island. We couldn't get those shows on our television in the country at our house so it was a HUGE treat!

Well, this year, we had just been to Miranda's grave in Iowa so we elected to go to Holton. We began our tour de cemetery with the Holton Cemetery were my mom and many other relatives are buried. The cemetery is always beautiful on Memorial Day weekend. The flags are just stunning as you drive down the aisles lined with them.

As we drove into the cemetery, Braden said, "Oh...the flower garden!!" I loved that!! IS a flower garden this time of year and it's such a happier way to look at a cemetery!! Smart boy!!

We stopped first at mom's gravesite and the boys put flowers on her grave. We always tell her thanks for watching out for Braden and taking care of Miranda. I admit, visiting gravesites with Braden is a little strange because every time I wonder if next year we will be visiting his grave.  It's a very sobering, eerie feeling.

Decorating graves was very important to my mom and she instilled in us an importance of making certain that we continued this tradition long after she was gone. We have done so. I know mom is smiling about that. I'm much to afraid to not do what she asked! LOL!!

We stopped at the graves of some of our relatives that I never knew. The latest they died was in the 50's...and I'm not quite that old. ;)  One of the graves is that of Leah Johnson. Now I know they have told me about 100 times how she is related to us, but I can't remember.

Anyway, her nickname was "Bone Crusher" and I hear she was a spunky one! I think I would have liked her and it's highly possible I got some of her DNA. Okay...a lot of her DNA. My brothers said that she used to have a big electric vacuum broom and she would give kids rides on it. She was a spinster as far as they can remember and she sounds pretty awesome to me! :)

Leah once told my mom to never, ever put artificial flowers on her grave. Ever! :)  My mom used to put them on her grave every year just to be ornery. Well...every year mom would cut her finger on the flowers somehow. She would always say, "Now don't poke me this year" before she put them in the ground and it never failed...she always drew back with blood on her hand. The boys told me the last two years she decorated her grave, she didn't get pricked. They thought Leah was giving her a break! :)

All I had was artificial flowers.

There was NO WAY I was going to put them on her grave. Not me.  BUT...the boys did it. I looked up at the sky and chuckled and said, "Okay Miss Leah...just remember that I was NOT the one who did it!" :)  And then I moved back a few steps from the boys incase lightning struck; they were on their own.

We then went to the Circleville Cemetery which is where my dad's side of the family is buried. I do enjoy looking at the graves that are really old to try to figure out the history. There are so many infants and children buried in those old graves. Well..beside one of the graves of a relative was one of those graves. Charlie who died when he was 2 years old in the 1880's. I asked if anyone knew who he was and they thought he was related somehow but couldn't place him exactly.

So Braden and I went back to the truck and got flowers and we decorated Charlie's grave. We have several older graves of little ones we decorate that are near our family plots even though we don't know exactly who they are. We sort of adopted them. No one else in my family puts flowers on their graves, I suppose because they didn't know them in person but they are family and they are kids and they need flowers. Period. (and yes...they look at me like I'm strange for doing that....whatever silly people!!)

Then we went to Olive's a VERY small cemetery in the middle of no where but near our family farm.

Olive Hill holds the grave of my great Aunt Kate and her family.  Aunt Kate didn't like artificial flowers either so each year my brother and sister in law pick flowers out of her flower garden at the farm and take them to her. I still remember picking daisies, iris, roses, and smoke from her smoke tree to make bouquets every year at memorial day. She and my Grandma would carefully cover tin cans in foil and we would take a bucket of water with us to pour in the cans with the flowers after we carefully carved out a small round indention to fit the cans in beside the graves.  We also spent quite a bit of time picking gooseberries and wild strawberries for pies later in the summer!! It was a lot of work but sooo worth it! :)

Aunt Kate's sister, Ella, who died in the late 1800's and was only 5 is buried next to her so we put our pink flowers on her grave. And then we went to visit my favorite grave of all time.  This grave is of someone I don't know and she's not a relative but I go visit her every year we are there and giggle with her. I wish I could figure out how to turn it so you don't have to cock your head...but it's worth it, trust me! :)

It seriously cracks me up.  Maybe she was bitter or maybe she was just getting even...don't know but I still giggle!! You GO Marva. Chester...wonder what YOU did!! :)  LOL!!

After we finished, we went back to my dad's house and visited for a bit. Dad was having a great day and we had a really good talk.  Dad has alzheimers but was clear as a bell. He was able to tell stories about family members and knew what specific flowers we needed to put on each grave. This is a picture of my dad and the boys! :)

We headed home but stopped in Topeka to eat at Red Robin and got a Salted Carmel Shake to split between all of us. It was AWESOME!! :)

Memorial Day is about honoring those that died for our country, remembering those we love that have earned their angel wings, and detouring.  We accomplished all three!!

Oh...and visiting the flower gardens.