Plastic Flowers and Memorial Day

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By Sharon M. Kennedy

Uncle Steve standing outside the Wildcat Lair

A few days ago I bought some plastic flowers and went to the cemeteries where my loved ones were laid to rest. I also took a supply of Kleenex with me. I knew I couldn’t blink back the tears that always fill my eyes when I visit family members. Some, like my sister Jude, haven’t been gone that long. Others, like my parents and Uncle Steve, left this earth many years ago.

Time, that great healer of all hurts, doesn’t diminish the pain or fill the void left by those we loved. Every year when Memorial Day rolls around I promise myself I won’t cry when I make the cemetery rounds, but every year I break that promise. I can’t help it. As soon as I park the car and walk to the tombstones, the tears start. No matter how many times I stop at Donaldson Catholic Cemetery or Oakland Chapel Gardens, the result is the same.

I wonder if I’ll ever visit the graves and not cry as if my heart would break. Mom would be disappointed to learn I haven’t been to Riverside Cemetery where her parents are buried. Maybe this summer I’ll make the effort. When I was young, every Memorial Day we drove to Sault Ste. Marie and left flowers in remembrance of the maternal grandparents and other relatives I never knew. It was a sad time for Mom, but it didn’t mean much to me or my siblings because the names on the stones were strangers to us.

Things are different now. Time might heal old hurts while heaping new ones upon us. The longer we live, the more we bid farewell to family members, friends, and classmates. I wish I could write something uplifting. Something humorous that would make you smile or chuckle as you read this, but for me, Memorial Day isn’t about laughter, picnics, or shopping. It’s about remembering the people we loved who are no more. It’s about American flags fluttering over the graves of veterans who gave their lives when called to duty or lived long enough to die of natural causes. It’s a day to reflect on this fleeting thing called life.




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