I had a couple of heart burdens to take care of yesterday.
I made what might be the last trip to my parents’ house to accomplish the last few things I needed to do, mostly picking of the last stragglers I plan to keep or return to relatives. Even though the interior of the house looks completely different than when my parents were living there (much furniture and most small items are gone, the walls are all painted, and there is new carpet throughout, all the original artwork from relatives and photographs are off the walls) Mom and Dad’s presence hits me like a punch to my gut when I’m there. And all the memories we made over 33 years fill each room. It’s hard to be there.
It will be hard never being there again.
Fortunately Mark was there with me. He followed me around in silence.
The second heart burden was a trip to the cemetery where I haven’t been since the day of Dad’s funeral with it’s gun salute from the Korean War Veterans. The cemetery is a little over an hour’s drive from home. We planned to make the trip to check on the gravesites and make sure no dead and dried up flower bouquets were still hanging around. We also planned to plant grass.
Although I had dreaded making this trip, the cemetery visit was actually much easier than I had imagined it might be. I don’t feel Mom and Dad’s presence there at all. I have a couple of memories of taking them there to visit Annie’s grave, but their presence does not linger there.
The graves were clean and neat and looked like fresh top soil had recently been applied. Mark walked around on them to test how compacted they were and decided they were not ready for grass seed yet. They still have some settling to do.
The gravestone is shaded in this photo, but you might be able to see that it has not yet been engraved with the death dates. We didn’t know if that was something that was prearranged or if we needed to call someone to do it. We decided to stop by the cemetery office on our way out to find out if and when they planned on seeding the grass, and what we needed to do about the gravestone.
The short answers are that they take care of the grass and will continue to add soil to the graves as it settles over what usually takes about six months. Then they will plant the grass. We need to contact the gravestone provider who will contract an engraver to come out and take care of the stone.
But here’s the bright light in this otherwise rather dull and somewhat gray post. I inquired about little WWII and Korean War marker flags I had seen at grave sites. The man at the office was very friendly and told me the cemetery provided those and they would put one at Dad’s grave since I’d asked. He then proceeded to ask me for the identifying information. I had already explained that both Mom and Dad had died in January.
“Where is this grave exactly?” he asked me. I told him it was near the back corner of the cemetery. It was beside another Smith gravestone of my aunt and uncle’s, and it was a plot with three graves on it. I explained about Annie.
“Now I know which one it is,” he said. “Some of the people who were hanging around after the funeral were talking about your mother. They said she took care of her daughter for a long time.”
“Yes,” I said, “she took care of her for 51 years.”
“She must have been a real gift,” he said. “I couldn’t do that.”
And before I knew it, the words were out of my mouth, “Sure you could,” I said. And then I caught myself and added, “That’s what she would have said. That’s what she always told people who told her that they couldn’t do it.”
“Yes, you could,” Mom always insisted. “Yes you could.”
31 thoughts on “Yes you could”
Beautiful words. You carry them all inside you, and your words commemorate their powerful lives.
Thanks, Lisa. Gosh, I’m really having trouble getting back into a routine and keeping up with things. Is that happening to you too?
100% For the first two months I was a disaster. Now I’m a little better, but I’m not my usual self.
Well, it still hasn’t been very long. Give yourself time.
Aw Christine. What a day for you and you chronicled it so well. Your mother is in you, that is for sure, and the words that tumbled out of your mouth were so her and so you! Grieving is hard and can be a long process but every day will bring you a little closer to healing I think. Your trip was difficult but important and so glad you had Mark with you. I am sure that helped. Hugs.
Yes. This grieving thing is harder than I had imagined. Some days I feel the cloud lift. That just makes it harder when I’m thrust back into the darkness. Overall I can see that things are getting better for me. Sometimes it all seems so unreal.
There are times, there are lives when we need to be reminded of that “yes you could”. Yes I can. it’s asking what is the next thing? and doing that next thing till one moment bleeds into another and we go on.
You speak from experience I suspect. It’s nice that you share it with us.
Wonderful words with a wide range of emotions. Meanwhile, time continues to heal.
I hope, and believe, so.
It must be hard to leave the place behind where so many memories were made, Christine. A door has been closed that will never open up again. But your Mom, Dad and Annie will always live in your heart and memory, and no one can take them away from you. In fact, that man gave you the proof that your Mom lives in other people’s heads and hearts as well. That must be comforting, or I hope it is.
Thank you for your courage to write about this, for sharing your life with us.
Thanks for stopping by, Marion. You always have just the right words to say. I want this chapter to end, even though I know it is a door that “will never open up again.”
Your life has changed so much in these last few years. I can understand you want it to end, to just go back to ‘normal’ without heartache.
Hi Christine .. a thought provoking post .. and yes you could is the wonderful contribution by your mother ..
Not being back at the house will be difficult – but you have achieved so much .. and I’m sure your parents would, rather as you are doing, you get yourself back ‘into order’ as such and be able to live your life with Mark and the children.
With thoughts and things do seem to be settling down .. lovely people at the Crematorium – so pleased for you .. big hugs Hilary
Thanks, Hilary. It does help me to think about what my parents would want me to be doing. I just flat-out miss them so much, sometimes. I’m sure you know how that feels.
A hard day……….. But you did it…….. and I guess your Mum always knew you could…. a sad journey one many of us have made as we wrap up the last of their lives as we leave empty houses that strangers will move into…
My thoughts as always are sent.. even though I know I dont get around to visit as much… Thinking of you
Enjoy your weekend… Hugs Sue xox
Thanks for stopping by, Sue. I don’t get around as much as I used to either. I appreciate your thoughts and good wishes.
That was a great story to end the post with. It is hard to leave behind the house. You know it’s just a possession, but the memories it holds are real. You don’t ever really get over it, but in time you get used to it.
I hang on to those words. In fact my husband said the same thing about his father who we lost in ’08. “You don’t ever really get over it, but in time you get used to it.” Thanks for stopping by, Nancy.
Wonderfully said, Christine. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for reading.
You’ve got another book in you, Christine, when all this has had a chance to settle in.
Thanks for your support, Cynthia. This whole thing has had a major effect on my outlook about writing. At first I told Mark that I didn’t think I could write anymore. I felt like I did it for my mom. She always believed in me. Now I have to find another reason to continue on.
I remember how difficult these things are to have to do after the loss of our parents. What a special moment at the end though, it was like gentle reminder that your mom is still with you.
Yes. It was a special moment. I hadn’t expected it.
I love that ending. 🙂
Inch by inch, life will someday be a cinch!
Thank you for sharing. As different as my trip was to CA to realize dad is not the same we did go to the cemetary as he has gone every Saturday since mom died 5yrs ago now to trim around the headstone, put fresh flowers and clean the stone. It is part of his routine so my sister takes him now as he no longer drives.
That’s so nice that he takes care of the grave. I think my mother would have liked to have done that with my sister Annie’s grave, but there was a big to-do about where they were going to buy cemetery plots. My dad won and they got them in their old home town which is about a 40 minute drive from where they lived. So Mom didn’t get to go much. And Dad was on a rapid decline with Alzheimer’s so it all just became really difficult to go anywhere.
I’m sorry to hear that your trip to CA was different. Things change, don’t they? All of a sudden we’re somewhere else with our relationships and there is no going back. It’s a hard lesson about life.