146: Decorating Day

My grandmothers always made sure all their flowers were out to the cemeteries the day before Memorial Day.

(And if both grandmothers agreed, it's probably the right way to do it. Or even if it's not, it's probably how it was going to be done.)

My grandma Elda takes weeks creating foot-high letters covered in individual crepe paper roses to spell out all her loved one's names. My grandma Lettie would load up her car with stacks of empty coffee cans and we'd pick piles of lilacs and peonies and whatever else was blooming in her yard at the time and load up all the kids, too. We'd fill the coffee cans with water at the spigots at the cemeteries and arrange bouquets to put on all the headstones at each stop. (Grandma Elda had almost always already beat us there, her art laid out at the different headstones at each grave.) And after the Ronan cemetery there was always a stop a Dairy Queen.

It's not as easy for Grandma Elda to make the flowers anymore. Azia and I are learning. We're both awful, but I think we have potential. We'll figure it out.

My Grandma Lettie has been gone more than seven years now. Instead of picking out or making something special to leave for her, I almost forget her grave nearly every single year. It's not I don't remember her; it's that still, she seems more here than not. I still catch myself thinking, at least for a moment, every year that she'll be doing the decorating with us.

Traditions change as life changes. I don't drink coffee and have no flowers in my yard. I still miss Grandma's big coffee cans and all her lilacs, and I don't think peonies have bloomed by Memorial Day since she's been gone, but the tradition my kids know is planting bedding plants in all the odd and quirky pots we find around our house. This year mom had the idea to have them all decorate and personalize disposable cups we used as planters, which seems an even better idea.

And still we stop at Diary Queen on our way back, even though these days it's open year round and probably not quite as exciting for kids as it used to be. Still, there's a lot I enjoyed today about listening to my mom tell my sister's daughter (who has never been here for Memorial Day before) about how my mom's grandma used to take my mom to Dairy Queen and how my grandma used to take me and her mom.

And Kylie said, "And your my grandma, and now you're taking me!"

And my mom said, "That's right."

And it is. It's right in so many ways.


  1. Love this Christa. Brought a lump to my throat.
    Keep the traditions alive. A lot of the good ones seem to be falling by the wayside these days.
    Uncle Jack

  2. loved reading this! the photo is precious!