Memorial Day is fast approaching, and every year it brings about a little bit of melancholy for me. My Grandma owned Memorial Day. More so than any other holiday, I remember her gearing up for the celebration – helping find someone to read off the roll-call of soldiers buried in the tiny rural cemetery, making sure there were exactly the right number of flags and flowers to decorate each grave, recruiting the church ladies to bake sweet treats for the people to enjoy after the march. And on the actual day, my grandma would round up every kid in the church and somehow get them lined up, shortest to tallest, stop traffic on a busy county highway, and parade everyone over to the cemetery to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers.
It seems like a different world. Most people I know take Memorial Day as a long weekend meant to kick off the summer – a reason for Sunday Fun-day and no work on Monday. But I have only missed one Memorial Day service in my life (the year I moved toArizona) and it’s an important tradition for me to keep.
The year my Grandma died, she was at a hospice in-patient facility on Memorial Day. She had painstakingly hand-written the map of the graves in the cemetery and asked (told?) my mom to take over he duties. That was a hard year, but she was so proud when we visited afterward and reported our success. The next year, after she was gone, I cried through the entire service.
That was eight years ago. This year my mom asked me if I would read the roll-call of soldiers in front of the church. I remember as a kid wishing and hoping I could someday read the roll. So now, given the opportunity, I feel sad. I wish Grandma was there to see me and hear my practiced voice read each name clearly and without mistake (I hope!) She would be proud that we still place importance on this day. She would have never guessed though, that now, for me, Memorial Day is about her.