On Memorial Day, patriotic concert planners and parade organizers try to get us to remember the wars our country has fought and the veterans who have made personal sacrifices for the benefit of all of us. That’s a good thing. We need to remember our history and we need to be thankful for the people in our past. The Bible tells us to remember our past. “Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you.” (Deuteronomy 32:7 NRSV)
I went to the cemetery on Saturday to put some silk flowers next to my parents’ grave stone. It was good to walk along the rows of graves and see all the flowers and other objects placed on the graves. I love the ceramic dog sitting on my cousin Gary’s grave. There were pretty flowers on my sister’s grave and on her son Steve’s grave. When I got to my parents’ grave stone I was surprised to see the silk flowers from last year still looking pretty good – slightly faded, but still nice and colorful. Since I had some fresh new flowers, I pulled out the old ones and planted the bright new ones. But I wanted to do something with the old ones. They were too nice to throw away. So I walked up to the older section of the cemetery. There weren’t as many flowers there. I found my grandparents’ graves and planted the year-old silk flowers beside my grandma’s grave stone. I don’t know if my grandma was offended that her flowers weren’t as fresh as her daughter’s flowers, or if she was pleased that I remembered her. I hope the latter.
Taking time to remember the people in our lives, both past and present, is important. It helps us understand how full and rich our lives are. We have a memory wall in our home – a wall where we display pictures of everyone who has come to us for assisted living. Currently, the wall has some twenty pictures. It includes my mom and dad and Mim’s mom – the first people we cared for throughout their last days. It also includes everyone who has lived with us since then, including our four-legged family members. Today I plan to get another frame so that I can add our newest resident, Roger, to the memory wall. I walk past this wall several times every day and I’m reminded of how each of these “extended family members” has enriched my life.
On Memorial Day it’s good to collectively remember our national history and be thankful for the men and women who have fought for our country. But it’s just as important to remember our rich personal heritage every day and thank God for all the people who have been blessings to us.