Memorial Day has always been a weekend of cabin and family. After retirement my father was a purveyor of popcorn, ice cream, pop and curiosity from his club car bus at the park in Moose Lake. The Macaulay and Moose Lake Holyoke Railroad Popcorn Bus was a park fixture. Dad loved the chance to interact with people, and proudly proclaimed his popcorn the best there ever could be. He was right about that.
On Memorial Day he would drive the bus to our cabin, park it, and let the grandkids gorge themselves on all the treats they wanted.
It was disgusting and wonderful, both. Our children would be covered in various forms of sticky and their sense of amazement at this free access to the forbidden was wonderful to behold.
Fifteen years ago, the day after Memorial Day, my father died of a massive heart attack. I had called him in the morning to thank him and check in, and by the afternoon he was gone.
So Memorial Day, as leaves were raked, flowers planted, and time shared with my family at the cabin sans treat bus, I thought much about the unfolding of family and the changing meanings of same and the thread of grace and faith that stitches life together.
Fifteen years ago, as we hugged goodbye, never did I imagine that I would no more be able to hug that skinny and rumbly body again. There are so many never-could-have-imagineds that have commenced since that time.
And, the flowers got planted. The celebration that is life was shared. The belief in the power of what will be was lived into through conversations and loving and savoring what is.
It is the shining possibility of now that makes for later memories. It is taking in the crunch of dirt under nails, the heave of belly through laugh and the smelling of life in flower and neck.
And, there is gratitude. Gratitude for the quirky gift that is family in all its vexations. Gratitude for the souls of those who blessed and live yet through our hearts and passions. Gratitude that thirty-some years from now, my children will be planting flowers and thinking thoughts about how it is we encountered life together.
I will be there as my father is there and so too will their children hear the stories and plant newness of life in the sweet yearn of memory.
On the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I planted flowers by my gradparents’ graves at Oak Hill Cemetery. This task had been performed by my father in the past, but he is no longer able to do it.