While I don’t remember doing it every year, I can remember many a Memorial Day visiting the graves of my paternal grandparents. On some occasions, I went with my Aunt Georgia, and I can remember her showing me how to use a knife to cut away some of the grass that was starting to encroach upon the edges of the headstones. While I worked on my grandparent’s stone, I believe she worked on that of my Uncle Orvall, her first husband. We also cleaned around the stone of “Poppa”, my great-grandfather (and my Aunt’s grandfather), Joseph Jeremiah McCombs. I can remember being shown how to bring up the urn that was a part of my grandparents’ headstone, so we could place the flowers we had brought.
I can remember visiting with my Mother as well. The area in Flint Memorial Park where my grandparents were buried was near to the area set aside to bury children. By this time I knew I had a younger brother, Michael, that had died only a few days after being born. I had wondered where he was buried, and I think I asked my mother that day. I thought she and I would be walking over to where the children were buried, but I learned that day that Michael was buried at my grandmother’s feet. No headstone marked the place where he lay.
The last time I visited Flint Memorial Park on Memorial Day, I was alone. I was in college by that time. I did the work by myself, cleaning around each headstone. I think I had picked some early lilacs and had brought them with me (lilacs usually didn’t start coming in on our bushes until June). I pulled up the urn and placed the flowers and stood there a moment, reflecting on the past before getting back in my car. I went out that afternoon, not to a picnic or a barbecue, but to go visit my Aunt Georgia. I would tell her of my visit that day, and listen to her tell me her memories of my father, my uncles, and my grandparents.