Reflections

With this being Memorial Day weekend I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the 2 relatives of mine that have passed on.

I’ve also been reflecting on how Memorial Day has changed for me.

When I was little we would start Memorial Day out having a ball game with all of my mom’s family. It took a few years for me to be considered “old enough” to play, but when I did, it was lots of fun. After the ball game we would head to my aunt’s for a bbq and visiting.

A few years later, the ball game part of the day got phased out as my aunt and uncle’s families spent the morning visiting cemetaries for other relatives not related to me. When they returned home, they would call us and we would head over for the bbq.

After my grandpa died, the day shifted again. While my aunt & uncle’s families were visiting other cemetaries, my family would walk to the cemetary my grandpa was buried at and do our thing there. We would then head home and wait for the call to head to my aunt’s for the bbq.

A few years after that, things switched once again. Because the majority of my family members felt like outcasts in recent years hanging out with members of my mom’s family, we decided to do our own thing. We now meet up at my parents sometime in the early afternoon, walk to the cemetary where my grandpa – and now, cousin – are buried, then head back to my parents for a bbq and games.

Memorial day hits me in different ways each year. There are years I am perfectly fine and emotions don’t get to me. There are years where I get a tiny bit emotional and years where I can’t keep the tears back. I never know how it’ll hit me until I actually get to the cemetary.

Thinking about my grandpa and cousin brings some bittersweet memories to me. I didn’t get to know either of them really well and sometimes I wish I had.

For the most part, my grandpa was a quiet man. He didn’t butt into things and didn’t tell the same story over and over again, like some old men do. If you got Grandpa talking about anything, it would be his gardens. He definitely had a “green-thumb”, which was NOT passed on to me.

He had the most amazing vegetable garden that he tended to quite often. And he had to travel to this garden as it was housed on my uncles property 15 minutes or so from my grandparents home.

At my grandparents home, he kept flowers growing EVERYWHERE and had a few fruits and veggies growing in the back yard. He also had 2 greenhouses on his property. Grandpa spent so much time outside that he had a constant farmers tan and the only times we would see him would be meal times.

Grandpa was great to support us whenever we asked him to. He was at every birthday, he was at every event we invited him to, when we needed Grandma or Grandpa to help out – they always would. My grandpa even babysat my little sister when she was a baby and my mom really needed someone.

I miss my Grandpa a ton! Like I said, I didn’t know him real well, but he was a great man!

My cousin I didn’t get to know much at all. It is kind of sad. But, when you factor in the fact that he was about 15 -20 years older than me – I’m not sure that any type of relationship could’ve been made.
Even though we didn’t have much of a relationship, this cousin was always so good to at least make small talk for a few minutes when he saw us. Which, sadly isn’t something that happens with all my cousins…I have a few cousins who don’t even say, “boo” to me at family gatherings.

I remember going to this cousins wedding and marveling at how cool it was. His wife was always so sweet to me as well and now we never see her. I keep thinking that I should go visit her sometime as she still lives out around us, but I am too chicken to do so.

My cousin’s death was a hard one on me, if you’ll remember. I kept feeling for his sweet wife and 2 boys. I think suicide is by far a harder death to accept than a natural death. With my grandpa we were all mostly okay because we knew it was his time and the he wanted to go. With my cousin, it was just sad. Realizing he felt so hopeless that the only thing he felt he could do was end his life was an eye opener. To this day, he still has at least 1 sister who is having a hard time dealing with his death and I don’t think his mom is handling it well either even though it’s been 2 years.

So tomorrow while doing the traditional things, I will still have my Grandpa & cousin on my mind. Perhaps for even a few days afterwards. I think this is a good thing and that it’s healthy.

I wish all of you a nice Memorial Day. If you don’t have loved ones who’ve passed on, make sure to love and spend time with them. If you do have loved ones who’ve passed on – take the time to at least think about them if you can’t visit their “resting spot.”

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