Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, 2009

When we moved to Utah, we decided to start a new family tradition of visiting the grave sites of loved ones during the Memorial weekend. As many of my husband's ancestors are buried in the vicinity, this effort is not only meaningful, but extremely easy. In the beginning, we didn't have much more than a name and a general burial location. We made a game of finding the grave markers by offering a dollar to the first child to 'call it'. I'm sure we elicited more than a few stares as our kids ran through the local cemeteries, shouting out family names, in hope of making a few bucks.

Ten years later and we're still making Memorial memories! We even got our seventeen-year-old to join us on a weekend adventure throughout the northern part of the state. I'm sure the offer to go shoot guns with the cousins was the real reason we got all our kids out the door, but it was nice for a little family R&R and the fact that everyone was still getting along on the way home speaks volumes to the good time had by all!

We have become quite comfortable with our Memorial Day circuit and we now know the exact location of our ancestors final resting spots. This allowed us to pay some quick respect and still have time for some of the more distant relatives. Over the years, we have always tried to remember our family stories, highlighting significant values or characteristics of our loved ones. Today, we let the tombstone tell the story as we tried to 'guess' the history memorialized on the stone.

This story had to have been a sad one! The child was born in 1861. Exactly 1 year, nine months and 21 days (specifically recorded on the marker) the child died. Many surrounding grave markers include only a name... and maybe a birth /death date, but these grieving parents went to great lengths to record every day of this child's earthly existence. I am sure that the sentiment chiseled into the bottom section of stone is heart-wrenching, but time has obscured the words and it was impossible to discern the message.

This family also knew a lot of heartache. In 1903 they laid a son to rest. A year later, another son died. Then in 1914 their one-month old daughter joined her brothers. While not directly linked to our family, their story caught my attention because someone had lovingly remembered the children by placing three matching teddy bears beside each marker.

So many grave markers tell no stories. This tombstone whispers a love story meant to stand the test of time. A loving mother and wife who had obviously lived a long and productive life and would be sorely missed but the message also hints of the family's deep faith and spiritual convictions.

We are appreciative of the time spent getting to know our family members. We are grateful for the written histories that help us know these remarkable individuals that paved the way for our life's journeys.

So many stories... so little time.

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