Monday, May 27, 2013

What We Remember

Memorial Day,  America's Day of the Dead, which is far closer to the Mexican Day of the Dead, than Halloween.  It is the Day of Honor.  The Day of Remembering.  The Day of Family.

I come from a family of giant souls, men and women, who fought, worked, cared in ways that leave my generation gasping for breath.  It's not that we haven't had our moments of bravery, humor, deep love, we have.  And our children will have the opportunities for that as well.  But they were something else.

When my parents were young, Memorial Day, was celebrated in a much bigger way.  My mom would gather buckets of iris, catapla blossums, snow balls, peonies and lilacs  and pile  them into the trunk of our 1957 Chevy, and off we'd go to the high country—Council, Midvale, Weiser—to meet family from all over  the state.  The family was buried in the Midvale area, on a beautiful hillside that allowed for the seeing of great distances.  We'd leave copious bundles of flowers on the graves of our matriarchs and patriarch, flags on the graves of the people who had served in any way, in any generation.  There were family who crossed the Great Plains, the last people on the last wagon train.  There were homesteaders, warriors from several wars, people who had birthed families of 7 and 8 children, all of them at home, people who went to the first schools, who drove the first cars, who tended ancient apple trees, people who told their stories.  Uncle Bemus.  Grandpa Ollie.  People of Honorable Lives.

Then we'd gather for lemonade, fried chicken, potato salad, and Grandma Belle's chocolate cake, and then settle in for the long drive home.

They did a better job of it than I ever will.  But those ghosts are alive and well in my genetic disposition.  I say something and  wonder where in the world that came from—my own personal ghosts.

I come from an ordinary Western family, with roots that go deep within the south-eastern part of my state.  Immense strength, humor, creativity, bravery, sense of duty and honor, God and Country, are my heritage.

And I suspect, yours.

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