Memorial Day

I thought Memorial Day was a vacationing holiday until I moved to Utah. Having never lived around family much less buried family members I had rarely visited a graveyard during my childhood. When I did it was usually treated as a beautiful park to walk through, as were golf courses. And the reason I thought it was a vacationing holiday was because my Dad was so adamant about NOT going anywhere on Memorial Day. Memorial Day and Labor Day were, according to him, the most traveled holidays of the year which in his opinion equaled most car accident holidays of the whole year. Cars on the road always equaled a car accident waiting to happen. We didn't travel on busy holidays on account of the possibility of a car accident.

When I moved to Utah and was around for my first Memorial Day I was shocked at the number of people at the cemeteries. By this time I knew it was a time to remember people who had passed on but I thought it was for people who had served in the military. When we drove by a cemetery on Memorial Day and I saw the roads inside and out choked with cars and people everywhere I was surprised. But I learned that Memorial Day is for remembering anyone who has passed on and left us all behind.

This was our first Memorial Day. We are lucky to live in a small town where they spend the extra money on lawn care in order to allow people to do almost anything they want in the cemetery for their loved ones. This weekend we went and bought some things to decorate Calvin's grave; flower basket, bird feeder, and wind chime. On Sunday Baby wrote Calvin a sweet note to put on his grave.
Sunday evening we went down to the cemetery to set things up. Baby taped his note to Calvin's plaque. We should be getting a headstone in the next month or two.
Then Olaf pounded the shepherds hook into the hard ground while Middle Child held it in place. We put it between Olaf's Dad's and Calvin's spots. We figured they can share it.
Then we hung the things we bought and Olaf wrapped them with lots of wire in hopes of not losing things to the wind or teenagers.

Olaf's Mom brought down a gorgeous arrangement of Red, White, and Blue flowers earlier this week. And I don't know where the orange flowers came from. My Easter decorations are still up, lilies and Easter eggs since he couldn't join in the hunt this year.
We went back down Monday evening. Olaf had put up some flags. And throughout the day several of Calvin's friends dropped things off. My neighbor told me that while at the store her son (Baby's age) was specifically looking for flowers for Calvin's grave. He kept looking for a bunch of flowers with a ribbon that said "Friend". He misses Calvin too.
As Olaf was driving away after putting the flags away (there is a US flag, Troop flag, and another homemade troop flag (I made that one) he saw a cute girl hop out of a car and put a rose down by Calvin. Several of our neighbors told us they saw cute girls bringing things to Calvin's grave throughout the day.
The charm in the flower says "I Love You." So sweet of all his friends.
Another good friend of Calvin's brought down some flowers with a nice note. It says "Friends Forever." I hope so.
It amazes me that the kids still remember him and talk about him. I never had someone close to me die when I was younger and I didn't know what to expect of his friends. I'm glad they still remember him. I know some of his friends have made a few changes in their lives because they have seen how fragile life is, not something many teenagers experience. I know he was a teenager and far from perfect, but he was still such a good kid and so likeable. I decided I'd come down before they clean everything up and plant the flowers that his friends had left. Since we can't plant them there I'll bring them home and plant them where I can see them and be reminded of Calvin and his great friends. I'm thankful for the awesome friends he made in 7th and 8th grade. Knowing he had a bunch of good friends makes me feel better.


sally said...

Ok so I'm behind the times and didn't realize that family/friends that had passed were visited on Memorial Day. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day. We would of visited his grave had we lived closer but I know Bonnie would be there in a heart beat as she continually says, so we're going to Donna's for dinner, right? Looks like you made a friend for life with her.

mommybake said...

How sweet! He is loved by so many people!! I keep thinking it will get easier, but then something reminds me of him, and it becomes so fresh in my mind again that he is really gone. I love you Donna and the boys! Give them a hug and love from their Aunt Suzanne!

Anonymous said...

Donna, Just a memory about Memorial Day as when I was growing up Mom and Dad would always take flowers to the cemetery in Des Moines as that was where my Grandfather and Grandmother Merriam as well as my brother, Bob, who was killed 65years ago on May 31st in Italy and that is where Mom and Dad are. Your Dad went there this past winter when they were there. Whenever I get to Des Moines I try to go to the cemetery. As a grade schooler we brought flowers so that the VFW and American Legion could decorate the graves of the soldiers. I am glad that you and many others have remembered Calvin this way and know it makes you feel good that so many care. Love, Aunt Marge

Lonita said...

Definitely shows how much Calvin was loved! How sweet of his friends. We always visited my grandparents' and great-grandparents graves on Memorial Day. I always liked seeing the different things people left on the graves and getting a sense of who the person was.

Urban Parks said...

Thanks Donna for sharing with us those memories and especially keeping Calvin in all of our hearts. To be honest, until just the last year I always thought Memorial Day was when we honor those in the military. It wasn't until we moved to Las Vegas I discovered differently. I'm glad it has been expanded to remember all. I guess that's what I get for growing up in the military.

quilts and quirks said...

Calvin's personality and goodness is so big, those who knew him will never forget him. They will talk of him for years to come. He left wonderful memories every where he went. Thank you for sharing your day with us. We love you, Donna and Chris and Clayton and Cole. And Calvin too.

Guy and Donna Johnson said...

Donna, I love reading your entries and look forward to them each week or whenever you post them. later sunday evening we went back to the cementary and looked at Calvin's grave. You can sure tell how loved and liked he was. I think the bird house is beautiful. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts. I look forward to your next one. Thanks for being such a good neighbor and friend.
Donna Johnson

amber said...

thats so sweet!! i never got to make it up there to see calvin.. im sorry! i tried but just didnt happin... but i love calvin just as well and i miss him so much... but ill never forget him never! he is always the sweetest boy to me! and ill never forget the memories!! i hope you and your family are doing well and that every thing is going good for you guys.. again im sorry for your loss! its almost been a year wow! time goes fast!

denverallens said...

Donna, looks like he is being visited often. That is so nice. I hadn't seen the eggs, that terrifically tacky tape is awesome! Everything looks so good. Can't wait to see you in a few days!