Memorials, Picnics and Patriotism

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Mark went unaccompanied to our local Memorial Day service this year. For the first time Josie didn’t go with him. She was upset that I hadn’t wakened her in time to go along. I haven’t missed this service many times, either. Living in the country, it was something my family didn’t attend while I was growing up. Since Memorial Day was always on May 30, it was late enough to plant garden, and that is what we usually did. So I enjoyed adopting this custom that was Mark’s. It helped bring true meaning to the holiday. Luckily, since I missed it this year, it was well marked for me ahead of time, and each girl shared in a different part of the experience.

One of my brothers and I went with Dad to three country cemeteries where parents, grandparents, great-great grandparents, and aunts and uncles are buried. We mowed, trimmed, whisk- broomed, set out pots of mixed plants, and watered. Josie helped on that trip.

We also made our annual trip to Deersville where the Parrys (Mom’s family) are buried. This time Kathie came along while her big sister helped friends give a baby shower. As we walked the cemetery, we noted which stones we liked and what type we would each like as our markers after we’re gone.

Since it was a beautiful afternoon, we snacked at a roadside rest beside Tappan Lake and watched some brave souls water-skiing on what must have been cold water. Seeing the lake

has always been a part of this trip for me. Dad reminded us again that it had been all rolling hills and more winding roads before Tappan Dam. This had been one of those controversial

upheavals which many folks from the area referred to as the “damn” project. It’s hard for me to imagine it not being there; it looks so natural now.

The celebration that especially sparked the holiday, this year came the Friday before. Parents were invited to our middle school for a patriotic celebration led by the fifth and sixth grades. The kids sang well, and each one had a few lines to say. We heard about our 50 states and our national symbols. To add to the special event, although the weather didn’t cooperate for an outdoor picnic, we were served an All-American menu of hot dogs, snacks, and McDonald’s apple pies.

As we ate in our child’s homeroom, everyone and everything made us welcome except the turtles and hermit crabs in Mrs. Gorby’s room which didn’t seem to be moved at all by the spirit pervading the building. They lumbered along in their tanks just like any other day. I hope they survive through summer.

We left feeling as charged up about being dismissed early as the kids did. We carried with us a big flag with a huge firecracker in front of it which Kathie’s group had made as a prop for their speaking parts. It’s on our kitchen wall now. We might as well leave it till the Fourth of July.

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