As everyone knows we celebrated Memorial Day just a short time back. Officially, it's a time to remember all those who died in the Armed Forces but it's also a time to remember all of our loved ones who have left us. Many of us make that annual pilgrimage to the various cemeteries to decorate those graves. Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews and perhaps even Sons or Daughters. Deb and I make the trek to Chelsea to decorate those graves at the St. Joseph's cemetery and also Rector Cemetery.
Sadly, it seems every year we buy a couple more bunches of flowers to place on a couple more graves.
We then go through the process of distributing these flowers on the graves of our beloved family members. Years ago when our kids were little, we all made the trip. And we would point out to the kids those graves and proceed to share stories about them and our fond memories of growing up with them. For years, this process of life never thrilled me too much. I wasn't too keen on being around all that death and sadness, but over the years, it now appears to be quite special and valuable.
Today, the kids are all grown up but we try to coerce one of them to go with us each year. Coerce is a little too strong a word because I think whoever goes with us actually enjoys being a part of this tradition. And year after year, whoever comes with us, probably hears many of our stories over and over again. Yea, we visit those beloved graves and then reminisce, sometimes to each other and sometimes just simply to ourselves.
We share about growing up in Chelsea and tell the kids and each other stories we've told a hundred times before. Sometimes a tear is shed but more often, ii's laughter that's produced. Being there keeps us in touch with our past, who we are and even the thought of a simpler time of life. But this year, I noticed something different. As we meandered throughout both cemeteries, more and more of our elders we grew up with are also now laid to rest. Maybe I just forgot this from a year ago, but head stone after stone, Deb and I shared about this guy or this lady.
The stories began again! People we'd forgotten over the years, we now remembered.
"He was my Little League coach. Boy, did he teach us how to swear. He knew all the words. Great coach though."
"She was my third grade teacher. I was in love with her the entire year."
"Oh, Deb, remember him? He was one of the town's mechanics. There wasn't nothin' he couldn't fix. He also had some great pin-ups in the back of the garage, too."
"Yea, and this guy was a mean old cuss that used to scare me with his teasing when he came to fix our old black and white TV."
After we left the two cemeteries, we drove around Chelsea and once we were flooded with memories. The old softball field; the empty lots where homes used to stand; the old Chelsea Bank, (now the Library); the vibrant Main Street which now is not so vibrant. Sheda's Grocery Store and our little home all gone. The lot sure seems small today. But Mom and Dad raised four kids as well as our "granny" as we called Mom's mom. Doesn't seem possible. Does anyone remember when that piece of metal broke off a train and flew through the old bank's window? That raised quite a stir if I remember correctly. The old Catholic School was stil there but Chelsea'a Public School is gone now. Deb was surprised and couldn't remember it being burned down. I think she was a little tearful when she saw it was gone.
On our return home we continued sharing how most of our elders are now all gone. Gulp! But the good news is that Chelsea is celebrating its' 150th birthday on the weekend of July 25 & 26 so we will be back in town again. Hopefully to see all of the ol' "Chelsea Gang" and maybe even stop in at the Silver Dollar for a cold one!!!!!! But,then on our way home, our youngest daughter, asked the question, "By the way you guys, where are you gonna be buried?" Deb and I just looked at each other. We are now the elders! Buying a cemetery plot! Should we or shouldn't we?
This is John Sheda signing off for now.
Call me at 319-327-4640 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Love to hear from you. Be abundantly blest this week.