Celebrating spring

I woke up this morning wondering what I should do about visiting my sister Annie’s grave. She’s buried in my parents’ hometown which is about 45 minutes north of their home. Years ago, when Mom and Dad were deciding where to buy grave sites, either in their current city or in their old hometown where their parents and most of their relatives are buried, my dad won out, and I’m not sure my mom ever forgave him. The grave location was a source of consternation as we made funeral plans for Annie, and it continues to be an issue.

I have driven my parents up to see Annie’s grave several times since she died in 2009. We went shortly after her death to clean up the funeral remnants. We returned to view the headstone, which we had to arrange to have moved once we realized it was installed in the wrong place over the three gravesites.  One trip we planted daisies. And another we placed painted stones that family members had decorated for Annie on the tombstone. The last time we went was early December when we placed an artificial pointsetta arrangement on the stone and a little artificial christmas tree in the ground. The last two trips were extremely difficult with Dad. He is not getting around very well and gets extremely exhausted by this level of exertion.

So now it is spring, nearly four months since our last trip and Annie’s grave is still decorated for Christmas.

I’ve had two conversations with my mom about what to do. Do I go alone to take down Christmas and put up summer flowers? Does Mom want to come with me and leave Dad at home with the home health aide? Does she want to try to take Dad if the home health aide goes with us? It’s a difficult decision. He probably would want to go, but I don’t know if he is able. And it’s extremely stressful for my mom to take him anywhere anymore, even with help.

Alzheimer’s has taken so many things away from my dad. And now this too.

I looked out the window from the kitchen table where I was finishing up my breakfast. The sun was rising through the woods  and beyond the neighbor’s house now visible through the leafless trees. A red-breasted robin scurried across the garden looking for a worm no doubt. And then there was a second. Four baby squirrels chased each other up and down the trees and across the branches of the playground that is our woods.  A gray chickadee pecked at the seed scattered on the ground below the feeder in the garden. The little animals are celebrating spring.

The newspaper says it will be 70 today. I think I’ll join them.

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13 Comments on “Celebrating spring”

  1. nrhatch says:

    I can’t help you, CM.

    I don’t visit the graves of deceased relatives. I see no reason to worship their bones. I am satisfied that our spirits are flying free on the breeze, not buried 6 feet under ground.

    If I want to connect with those who have passed, I go outside and commune with nature and their whispering spirits.

    • CMSmith says:

      I don’t think of it as worshipping bones. Her grave site is a memorial to her. It is a tribute to her and a place where her name is etched in stone. I understand what you say. And I too am most aware of Annie in a sudden flight of doves, a soft snowfall or a dramatic cloud-filled sky with shooting sun rays. In fact I saw one of those just yesterday.

      I know there are differing ideas about how to commemorate lost loved ones. I like tending the graves. And more importantly, so does my father.

    • nrhatch says:

      I’m sorry, CM. I think that my comments may have hurt your feelings which is NOT what I intended.

      As I read the first part of this post, you seemed stressed about how to care for Annie’s grave from a distance.

      I merely meant to offer a different perspective . . . to encourage you to go out and enjoy the signs, sounds, and smells of Spring and honor Annie’s spirit each time you felt the breeze on your skin.

      • CMSmith says:

        I realize my post may have sounded as if I was asking for help or advice, which I frankly, wasn’t. I was merely sharing, wisely or not, what was on my mind. We have different world-views, you and I. That intrigues me at times, but I don’t always agree.

        The problem, if there is one, does not lie with me, but really with my mother, who wants to visit her daughter’s grave, realizes she can’t take my father, and feels guilty or sad for him if she goes without him. Again, not asking for help or advice here.

        I was merely trying to shed light on yet another tragic aspect of Alzheimer’s.

      • nrhatch says:

        Thanks for sharing. Peace.

  2. paul mckay says:

    I don’t see a gravesite as any kind of place of worship of any kind, but rather as a memorial site for remembrance and reflection and prayer and meditation and connection. I wish I were close enough to get to the gravesites of all the blood of my blood more often. Thanks for the beautiful reflection on your family, which inspired a lot of thought and reflection on all my absent loved ones.

  3. Erin Moxam says:

    My family ‘plot’ if you will, is hours and hours away in a place I have never lived and only been to twice in my life. When I have gone, it is a powerful experience. It is nice that you at least have the option of going regularly if you want to.

  4. 1959duke says:

    Attending gravesites is someones personal deal. Some people feel they need that while others don’t.

  5. hugmamma says:

    Thanks for sharing a really relevant dilemma. My husband and I were born and raised in Hawaii. Most of our families live there. Our daughter, however, was born in Connecticut, and still considers that her home, though we live in Washington State. The question I’ve pondered for a while is where to be buried.

    We’ll probably stay put where we are, even in our after-life, since most of our married life has been on the mainland, and we’ve lived here the longest of anywhere, 14 years.

    While it may be irrelevant since our memories can be honored from anywhere, I’m still old-fashioned about where we put down our final “roots.” It won’t be dependent upon our daughter, for she’s still growing her own life, and has no idea where she will finally land.

    Am sorry to hear of your father’s situation. Any stress compounds the frustrations of Alzheimer’s. I’ll keep your family in my prayers.

    hugs for sharing…valuable topic…hugmamma.

  6. Just a hug, I hope Spring will find you soon.

  7. [...] we planted these daisies last year. They are the same variety as the ones we planted at Annies gravesite. Now that they are blooming I hope to make the trip north to Piqua, Ohio to see and photograph the [...]


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