I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s been more than a decade since I’ve visited my grandfather’s grave. Today, being Memorial Day, thought it would be appropriate to visit.
I was afraid I was going to get emotional pulling into the cemetery – after all, I cry at the drop of the hat during sappy card and grocery store commercials – but, the sign made me grin, “Ask About Our Memorial Day Specials.” The sign further bragged that space is now available, I likened it to all the condo advertisements I’ve been seeing.
Having been so long since I had visited, I wasn’t quite sure where his grave was. In the past 20 years, there have been a few more additions to the cemetery and I was lost. Found my way to the funeral home where a very kind woman took down my grandfather’s information and came back with a confusing map. I asked her just to point where we were located on the map, but she said she didn’t have her bearings either but would drive her car to the area and show me. After waving my thanks to her, I took out the map and carefully walked through the cemetery, looking for the numbered markers as I delicately stepped over stones and likely areas that had bodies underneath them.
When I travel to unfamiliar cities I try to be inconspicuous when pulling out the map. I was unsuccessful at doing this in the cemetery. It was obvious that I was lost – not just to myself but to a woman who was arranging gorgeous tulips on her mother’s stone. She tried to help and we both ended up sharing a laugh when I waved over a white area on the map and asked if she had any idea what it was, her answer was, “the cemetery.”
I eventually found his stone and began to cry. It’s been more than 20 years, I don’t know why I cried. Maybe it was because all of my memories of him are so vivid and I thought of what he’s missed, of what I haven’t been able to share with him. All those feelings rushed through me and out of me. Maybe it was simply the relief following frustration on where the stone was located. Maybe it was PMS. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I made the visit.
I placed a potted plant on his stone. I chose a living, drought-tolerant plant versus cut flowers to signify life (drought-tolerant because I have two brown thumbs!). I remembered how I felt when he died, that the world should stop and end, but it doesn't, life continues. We learn to move on.