Monday, May 31, 2010

The Legacy

Memorial Day weekend is a special time in my family. We have several traditions surrounding the holiday. The most important is to visit cemeteries where relatives are buried. We clean and decorate the graves and remember those who have gone before us. We tell stories, remember and appreciate our ancestors and enjoy the company of those who are still with us to celebrate.

I always look forward to the holiday, because not only do I get together with the people closest to my heart in current time, but I get to pause and reflect on all those who have preceded me in life and who have, by their lifetimes, given me some sort of gift.

In one of the cemeteries I visit, there are 18 family members buried. In some ways, I feel some sadness when I realize how many people have passed. Of the 18, there are only 4 I did not personally know. Those 4 are my dad's grandparents. Everyone else played a role of some kind in my early life. First off, my father, is always tucked safely in my heart. My grandparents, who welcomed me each summer to work on their cherry and blackberry farm. My uncle Johnny, who built me many little wooden items in his wood shop and his wife. My great uncle Paul, who was very close to my dad. My uncle Jack, who was simply one of the nicest people on the entire planet, who died far too young. My great aunt Grace, and great uncle Leo. My dad's cousin Janet, who also died way too young. My great grand parents. It's a long history there in that graveyard. My uncle Jack's brother, who's 4th of July BBQ I attended every year and Jack's parents, who were like another set of grandparents for me when I was a kid. I have so many memories of all these people.

At another cemetery, it's my mom's parents, and one of my uncles that we remember.

I owe them all a debt of gratitude. They all enriched my life in special and important ways. Some of them made my life in it's current form possible - simply by their existence and their persistence in living this thing called life. Others simply made my life better by being in it, celebrating holidays with me, and giving me different perspectives of and approaches to life. They all contributed in important ways to the person I am today.

I love the opportunity to remember and to recognize the contributions that others have made to the life that I am fortunate to live today.

Happy Memorial Day. I hope you remember all those who have come before you, and all that they have made possible for you, in one way or another.