Bernie and I took the boys to the cemetery this morning to visit the graves of some of my mother's relatives. I can recall doing the same thing with my own parents when I was young. How I would enjoy exploring all the old stones! The names on the stones meant nothing of course - just random people who came and went before me.
It had been a few years since I had visited this particular cemetery - I think the last time I was there was when my aunt died back in 2001. While Bernie and 3 1/2 year-old Isaac set off exploring, 5 year-old David firmly put his hand in mine and we set off to find my relatives' tombstones. I could see the stones in my mind and even the general idea of where they were in the rather large cemetery, but we had no success. Ultimately, I did have to use the cell phone to call my father who gave me very accurate directions to where I needed to be.
I showed David the various names and told him who they were. There was my mother's uncle (who died long before I was born), my great-grandmother and my grandmother (both of whom passed away the summer before I was born - I can only imagine what a difficult time that was for my mother as she carried me as well), my grandfather (who passed away when I was 5 - only a few months older than David is now. I have exactly three memories of him - and one of those was when he was laid out at the funeral home) and his second wife who I think I met once in my life, and of course my aunt who I do remember. Yet, while I did not know any of these people well, they are all part of who I am, and by extension, who my children are. I have my mother's stories of all of them - both good and bad - and I like to think that when we meet again on the other side, they will know who I am and we will be able to have quite the conversation! I know that none of them are actually in that cemetery - their spirits live on. Yet, their graves provide a reminder both that they lived and that death does indeed come to us all.
So, on this day, in which we also did many enjoyable things, we took some time out to remember, which was what the day was meant for in the first place.