Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017. (Broken record and then some.)

Because Pink Slip has been around so long - 10+ years -  I know that I can tend to get broken record-ish, especially around holidays. But when I look back at what I had to say about Memorial Day in 2007, well, it pretty much holds.

There are, of course, a few updates.

Those graves I go to "decorate" now contain a tiny bit of my husband's ashes. And, unlike on that first Memorial Day that Pink Slip celebrated, when I was planning on my cemetery run for the day after, Barbara and I have already paid our visit. Naturally, the day we chose turned out to be monsoon-miserable (and cold, to boot). I got soaked but stayed relatively clean. By the time we were done, Babs looked as if she'd just dug a tunnel under Boston Harbor. Or as if she'd been mud wrestling.

We usually do geraniums, but the ones at Home Depot were completely bedraggled. And last year, we'd discovered that SunPatiens (impatiens that "work" in the sun) actually hold up better. So SunPatiens it was.

As I dug deep, I noted that the vets neglected to stick a flag on my father's grave. As there was a nearby grave that had two, I helped myself. Four years in the US Navy in WWII. He earned it.

But the big noticeable on my parents' gravestone was the yuck on it. On the front, there was lichen and blackmold. On the back, there was quite a bit more lichen, plus some sort of creepy blood-red mold. I shudder to think...

Anyway, the lichen I could clean off with a glove, but that mold is another story. Before I whistle in a professional gravestone cleaner, I'm going to try to clean it off on my own. A mere google tells me that there are multiple products out there designed expressly to clean grave markers. So at some point over the summer I'll be up and tackle this mess, and do a bit of sprucing up to the little marble stone that marks the gravesite of my sister Margaret. After that, I'll hire someone to pull out the half-dead yews that flank my parents' stone, and replace them with hosta. I won't mind if they yank the voracious fir tree next door. One of two flanking the neighboring grave, which have pretty much done a full, obliterating surround on the stone, the adjacent fir appears heading our way. There's no sign that anyone cares for this grave next door. Surely, if anyone were keeping an eye on it, surely they would have trimmed back those creeping firs. So if "my guy" - whoever that ends up being - accidentally cuts down one of those firs, so be it. We'll see.

After we did our raking, planting, and quick cemetery tour - a nod to Ned Mc, buried nearby, dead this year: the last of my father's first cousins - we had a drowned rat lunch at a diner owned by a second cousin. (The son of one of Ned Mc's sisters, whose grave we also buzzed by.) Unfortunately, we were late in their day, and they were out the chowder we were hoping to warm us up. Oh, well.

After lunch, we blew out to Barre, Mass, where our Rogers' great-grandparents are buried. As is my grandfather. My grandmother, 55 years a widow by the time she died, had no interest in being buried in the godforsaken town of Barre. She wanted to be with her parents, her sons and daughter, and a good crowd of her sibs, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Thus she shares the turf with my parents, leaving my grandfather to await the resurrection of the body with his folks and sibs.

Barre usually means ice cream at what was Jack's when I was a kid. (I have no idea what it's called now, but it's in the same place.) Not this year: too damned cold.

Before we left the cemetery in Barre we checked to make sure that the wrought iron Joyce Memorial Gates which, in my childhood, had guarded the cemetery driveway, were still tossed off to the side, rusting. (If I win the lottery, I will reclaim and restore them. The gates, I believe, were a gift from my great uncle(s), who were the brother(s) of my great-grandmother Margaret Joyce. Whatever the familial connection is, there was one, and my father was always quick (and proud) to point out those gates when we made our annual pilgrimage to Barre.)

Anyway, we were happy to have done our decorating prior to Decoration Day, a feat we so seldom accomplish.

Back in Boston, the flags are up on the Common, commemorating all of those from Massachusetts who died in the service of our country, from the Revolutionary War on. A stirring sight, for sure. But I like this shot because it shows the carousel. Life goes on!

 If it's not raining today, I may head on over to my final cemetery stop - Mount Auburn. It's one of those 19th century garden cemeteries, quite beautiful and full of near-famous people like Curt Gowdy and MacGeorge Bundy. And some famous folks, too: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Mary Baker Eddy. Not to mention non-famous individuals, like my husband, whose remains are in an ash plot there. Not all of them. Some (in tiny portions) have been scattered/snuck into other spots, and a bit are in a little Connemara marble jar on my mantle. So I don't feel compelled to visit Jim the way I do to pay a couple of visits a year to my parents. He's with me.

But back to Memorial Day: it's really about our veterans, especially those who lost their lives in one of our good-bad-indifferent wars. Here's to you.

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