Grandma called it Decoration Day. She grew flowers just for this day and once told me that if I didn’t have any from my garden to just come visit, she didn’t need store bought. It wasn’t that she didn’t love flowers, but she was frugal and realistic. It wasn’t about bringing loved ones money, it was about bringing love. Once we got to the cemetery it was a joyful reunion. She would tell the stories about those we were visiting, the same stories every year. By the time my years could be measured in double digits I had them memorized. The grownups would make sure that the grass was trimmed back and the headstones swept and the flowers arranged just so. The cemetery was, and still is, beautifully maintained, that was not the point. The kids would play chase between the headstones- no disrespect intended. In fact it seemed the best way for a young wiggly kid to connect with those beyond. Often a simple lunch or snack would be pulled out before we left, more as an excuse to linger with family then as a need to satiate hunger.
Memorial Day was not a patriotic holiday growing up. It was about remembering and reconnecting with family, both here and beyond.