Monday, May 25, 2009

Naturally. I am also shy of strangers and I have nothing like her excuse.

It is very important to have the flowers planted at the graves on or before Memorial day.

This is one life lesson that I was taught by my father and grandmother.

When they were alive, we would go from cemetery to cemetery planting flowers on graves of relatives, some of whom none of us had ever met.

I should back up a little. First we would go from greenhouse to greenhouse finding exactly the right flowers. Certain relatives required certain flowers. My mother and my grandmother's sister required a pink geranium in the most delicate shade of pink. They also needed dusty miller. And some spikes. Some relatives required red or bright pink geraniums. Most of the relatives required white double petunias. Regular single, white petunias are pretty common. White double petunias are not. Sometimes after driving to many greenhouses, we might find them but they would be more than my grandmother was willing to pay. Sometimes at this point I was ready to beat myself to death with her cane. Eventually, we would find all the flowers in colors, layers and prices that would make my grandmother and all the dead relatives happy.

Then we did the driving from cemetery to cemetery. We would find the gravestone. Listen to stories of this relative and that relative. We would clean the stone, plant the flowers, water the flowers...there was a very specific sequence.

Honestly, I love planting the flowers for Memorial Day. It feels like a very concrete thing you can do for someone dead. What else can you do for them? There isn't much.

I even loved going with my grandmother. I didn't love the yucky BBQ chicken sandwiches from KFC we would get to eat after. Always the same sandwiches were ordered but never ever drinks because WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY!

Today is Memorial Day and I haven't planted the flowers. In the years since my dad died, my sister and I have just planted flowers at his and my mom's grave. I don't know where any of those other graves are. I hope one of my other relatives is planting at them. But this year I didn't make it to Lansing to do the planting. My excuse is the same as always...I was busy. There was just not a day this last week or the week previous where I could get away for 3+ hours and do the planting. It is really bothering me that I didn't do it. It is bothering me so much that I am sitting her at 2:02AM, unable to sleep because I feel like I have been most ineffectual in my duty as grave planter.

Anna and I are going to try really hard to get to Lansing this week to plant. Even as I type these words, my schedule for the week is rolling through my head and I am worried about whether or not I can squeeze it in. For a moment I can see my grandmother with her cane and my father in his wheelchair and I feel like the world's biggest failure because I have two good legs and my excuse for not getting this done is a lack of time.

It is now 2:26 and I fear that I am entering a shame and guilt spiral. I'd better quit while I'm ahead. I am going to go to bed and wake up and have a nice Memorial Day and get to those plants when I can and not feel guilty about when they are planted. I am just going to be happy that they do.

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