Thursday, May 2, 2013

Decoration Day

Decoration Day's a coming.  That's a big deal from where I come from.  Growing up it meant visiting J and G for all your silk floral needs.  Loading the bed of your pick up with hoes, weedeaters, and shovels, and making sure you had the latest gossip to share with long lost kin and friends. A bucket of fried chicken never hurt anyone, either.
Decoration Day, the forerunner to Memorial Day, a day to pay respects to the fallen of that time our country turned on itself like a rabid dog.  A day to come together to leave the freshly bloomed buttercups at the grave of a cousin, a posy for your brother, and an armful of those wild climbing honeysuckle roses for your beloved. 
I don't know about up north, but for the south, we still take the time to remember.  Not just for those who fought a battle that was never really theirs, but for kin and friends alike, come and gone.
  I loved spending Decoration Day with my granny.  It meant loading her blue Gran Torino with all the afore mentioned items, plus a gallon pickle jar of sun tea in the floorboard held in place by my forcibly shoed feet, and a sackful of sandwiches.  We'd drive across the county to DeMent Cemetery early morning to tend the graves of those gone on.  Those no longer buck dancing this side of eternity, but still keeping time.
Anyone will tell you they are there for the dead.  And, in truth, they're only half lying.  Decoration Day isn't just about tidying up the final ancestral resting place, it's just as much as keeping up with the living.  To take a break, resting one's chin on the top handle of a hoe while listening to the goings on of your cousin's grandbabies.   To stop with great fanfare, and go on over how much those twin great nieces have shot up since last May, and to hold your sister in law close as you both cry over the loss of that dear man you spent your childhood chasing and racing, riding donkeys, praying they get in trouble instead of you.  That's Decoration Day.

It isn't about those pine boxes beneath.  It's about those lives that are woven into yours.  Those lives that lived a century, decades, right beside yours.  
I'm homesick.  I miss a mother I never had.  I don't even know how that's possible to miss something you never knew - not really.  But, I do know that I'm eternally homesick for my grandmother.  She took her last shallow breath this day a year ago, a few minutes past her church bringing the noon meal.  Brother Bowers and his wife had just left, crying how they never saw this coming from the strongest woman they knew. To be honest, none of us wanted to see it coming.  It took a blindsiding.  


Erin said...

I love this post. I am so glad that you know what Decoration Day is. Many people don't know what it is and don't know the joys that the day withholds. Around here the entire Month of May is filled with decoration weekends - so many cemeteries have their decoration on different weekends. We have many places to go.
I am reminded of when I was a child, mom packing a picnic lunch in her woven picnic basket. We would take a water jug or two for drink. The back of the car filled with mason jars and coffee cans covered with foil - filled with irises, peonies, roses, and wildflowers. (We rarely bought the artificial flowers-- we had too many graves to decorate)

The days were spent talking to old folk, listening to them tell hill stories. Me and my sisters playing games, going barefoot, eating sandwiches on a blanket. Dad would drive all the backroads, stopping at a low bridge to cool our feet in the creek and to tell a story.

Sweet Memories. I know you miss your grandmother, I know because of the tender way you remember her. I know she was a sweet lady, just the way you talk about her.

Blessings to you and your family.

Love you.

Aubry Smith said...

So sorry for your loss, Laurie. May the God of all comfort be your peace as you remember and mourn.

Anonymous said...

I know how much you are missing your Grandmother. I pray that you will find some comfort in your memories. She was a sweet lady. Also glad you have some good memories of your "Granny". Love you. Aunt M.