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.