"Gone, But not Forgotten"
"You never seem to have enough time to say the things you need to say"

When I was a child growing up, my family took Memorial Day very seriously.  We didn't just "skip" the real reason for Memorial Day back then, and have a Bar-B-Q or something - Memorial Day was a special day set aside each year to honor those loved ones who had passed on, by decorating their graves. My folks and my Grandfather called it "Decoration Day." I occasionally hear other members of the older generation refer to Memorial Day as Decoration Day. They are usually the same people who make an effort to visit a cemetery or two, on Memorial Day. I wish more people across this great land of ours would take the time to visit a cemetery on Memorial Day. I know that many of us in America these days live so far away from our roots, that it is difficult to visit the graves of those we love, on that special day. I wish that I still lived in Boulder County, Colorado, and could carry on the tradition that my parents instilled in me, of honoring the dead on Memorial Day.

Usually by the time Memorial Day arrived, my Grandaddy's flower garden would be ready to provide enough flowers for several beautiful cemetery bouquets.  I always volunteered to help Grandad pick the flowers.   Each year, we saved empty coffee cans, to serve as large vases for the flowers on Memorial Day.  We would put water in the bottom of the coffee cans, to keep the flowers fresh for the ten mile drive from the farm to Boulder's Green Mountain Cemetery.

I remember helping to pick the bright orange poppies, with their heavy heads nodding in the Colorado breeze. The lovely iris were usually next, with their delicate lavender and deep purple hues. Next we would pick some bright, waxy buttercups that grew in the shade next to Grandad's porch. Stately gladiolas and sturdy daffodils were also added to the bouquet.   Then Grandad would take his pocketknife, and carefully cut branches of snowball blossoms off of his snowball tree. I haven't seen a snowball tree in years, but I can still remember how the  round clusters of blossoms looked  just like fluffy snowballs hanging from the branches. The lilacs from my Mother's lilac bush were the last pretty addition we made to our collection.

Once we arrived at the cemetery, there were several graves to visit. I could name them one by one, but somehow that seems too personal to share. I can still remember Grandaddy taking his handkerchief from his pocket and wiping the tears from his eyes, as he decorated the grave of his bride. My grandmother died in 1960, and Grandaddy didn't die until 1974. I think he decorated her grave every year, on Memorial Day, until he passed away as well.

I remember standing in front of the headstone belonging to my great-grandfather, who had fought in the Civil War. Part of the inscription on his headstone said "Gone, But not Forgotten." Can we make that our goal, for Memorial Day each year? That no matter where we live, that we take the time to honor our loved ones that have passed on, so that they are only "Gone, But not Forgotten."

"Contributed by a 4th generation Colorado native, currently living out of state."

This page was updated on Aug. 21, 2011

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