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.