Flash forward to now, and a new tradition has been in the works for many years. My sister/cousin and I venture forth with pretty silks and a few cut roses to visit the graves of our loved ones. We usually get a little breakfast or lunch (now from a drive through instead of packed at home) and have our own cemetery picnics. One year a well-meaning neighbor spotted our car parked in a rural graveyard and called someone to check us out... There we sat with soft tacos and our colas... It was a great laugh because the gal who checked on us was a friend... We wished we'd brought her a taco, too!
Our conversation flicked back and forth from old times to now, from loved ones to family legend.
Sweet connections with those who are not with us in the real sense but who will never really travel beyond our hearts' reach.
This past Sunday and yesterday on Memorial Day, my son and I ventured into a time capsule of highest order.. We decided to tackle the two steamer trunks and the cedar hope chest in an attempt to consolidate and eliminate some things, making more storage and finding out if we needed to "keep much" in those things. Haha... That determination is still up for grabs.
First... we opened the huge trunk with the most messages from the past. Luckily I am familiar with all "historian" handwriting, so I could decipher the many "my mother's baby dress... and my father's work gloves, etc." All notes fluttered to the ground penned on tiny wisps of check stubs and the backs of grocery receipts. I really wonder at the scarcity and preservation of paper in those days. We could have saved so many trees if we still used every scrap like they did. The steamer trunk, purchased new in 1919 as a wedding necessity for my grandparents, was in great shape. We laughed so hard at the quilt I had always thought my mother embroidered for me, carefully wrapped and marked, "FOR GERRED." He gave it to me any way since it was covered in autumn leaves and acorns and all things I love. I gave him all the military items, all the old money, foreign money, and memorabilia from Wars 1 and 2. We marveled that the ones from WW1 simply said, From the War of 1917 or The Great War... innocent of any succeeding involvements yet to come.
As you can see, the other trunk was beautiful inside and also filled with family keepsakes. Our stacks of treasures grew alarmingly and our pile of throwaway was just a little sparse. We kept saying, "Well, they kept it this long..." and "It doesn't take up any more room than anything else." And so it goes. I guess we did manage to get it all condensed into one trunk, and my son is going to take all of it to his house because he likes the trunks!!! Oh, I have more trunks and I am thrilled.
The rising sun flags and silk kimonos, the old serge suit shirt and tie worn last by my great grandfather Willard... "my daddy's second best shirt." --- penned by my gramma.... (Because we all know he was buried in his finest.)---- All looked and felt brand new, thanks to the wonders of cedar. It's a definite thing... Cedar really preserves the past.
The last wearing of the doughboy WW1 uniform from France was by my son many moons ago at a Roaring 20's New Year's Eve party... Gotta love the addition of the non-standard-issue little red snowboots! It makes my heart melt to see this from over 30 years ago...