As you can see, this is not “The House that Aaron Built,” which I had promised today. That will appear on Wednesday instead.
It’s Memorial Day, and I want to mark it. It seems important on this day to pause and remember. The custom in our family was to go to the cemetery with flowers – not just for soldiers, but for all those we held dear. I admit to being a cemetery person. I like the quiet grounds and find it peaceful to visit the resting places of my ancestors. Here in Anchorage, because I’m so far away from the place where my own mother and father are buried, I’ll go today to the local cemetery and place a small bouquet of flowers on the graves of Bill and Frances – parents of a good friend. This cemetery in the middle of town is a busy place on Memorial Day. Families picnic near their loved ones, and visitors prune vegetation and place flags and flowers at the headstones.
In the early part of the twentieth century Memorial Day was always on May 30, and it was called “Decoration Day.”
My great-grandmother Lydia Hall wrote in her 1924 journal:
Friday, May 30 – “Pleasant. This is Decoration day. Agnes took the children in town to see the parade. They were too late. Very quiet for Wallingford. The decorations were very nice. I have been sitting out of doors for an hour this morning enjoying the sunshine and warm air. It is the first time I have been out since last fall.” – Lydia Jane Hall
For her “decorations,” my mother gathered flowers from the farm or from her own garden to make a patriotic bouquet. Red and white peonies and indigo blue baptisia were her blooms of choice, and under my mother’s skillful hands, they made a striking arrangement.
One year she painted this tiny watercolor of her bouquet. It hangs in an alcove in my house and greets me in the morning when I come downstairs to breakfast. Today when I see it I’ll pause, and remember, and thank her for this good life.
On Wednesday: The House that Aaron Built