Decorating Graves

Life in the Farm Lane

5/30/2013 12:00 AM

It may be a bit past Memorial Day now, but I think it’s still fitting to recount the holiday weekend my son and I had.

Being 15 months old, my son hasn’t a clue what Memorial Day is, let alone what a veteran is. For all he knows, it’s just an extra day to spend with mommy.

For the extended holiday, my mom and I took my son across the state to visit my grandmother, whom he hasn’t seen since he was 3  months old.

While great-grandma was elated to see him, her goal for our visit was to get the graves of our family members decorated – my grandfather, his parents and brother, and grandma’s parents and brother.

So early Monday morning, we loaded grandma, my son, the flowers and needed gardening tools into the SUV and set out for the cemetery.

First stop was the resting place of my grandfather’s parents. My son had never been to a cemetery before, so while my mom cleared the weeds and planted flowers, he was simply content to watch.

Next stop, the grave of my grandfather. My grandfather, known to me as “pappy,” died more than five years ago, leaving a huge void in my family. He was the glue that held us all together, including the dairy farm. Since his passing, the family has drifted apart and the dairy isn’t as iconic as it once was.

Pappy was also my idol, my favorite person in the world, and the one person I wanted to please more than anyone else. My mom was his little girl, the one that was by his side through everything. So needless to say, both of us have taken his passing extra hard, even five years later.

When my mom started planting the flowers around his headstone, my son reached his meltdown point, having missed a nap and being very unhappy about having to behave.

But letting him run around turned out to be the most amazing moment of the day.

A few weeks ago, he learned how to pick dandelions, and since the cemetery was full of them, he went straight to work. But he didn’t stop at just picking them. He placed them on the headstones of Pappy’s neighbors, decorating the graves of fallen veterans in his own beautiful way.

My mom and I were extremely touched by his unknowing, yet wonderful tribute to the fallen. And I know my grandfather was smiling down on his newest great-grandson that day.

~ Jessica Rose Spangler, Lancaster Farming market editor


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