“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo
Today, Mom and I decorated ancestral graves in South Fork Cemetery at Malone. This enormous tree – I’m not sure what it was, perhaps an oak – has overlooked the graves for as long as I can remember. Last year it wasn’t looking very good. This year revealed its end. It’s both sad and beautiful, not unlike life at all. And, not unlike life, I find its beauty far outweighs the sadness of its demise. Such is the cycle of life.
I don’t know when we began to decorate all graves at Memorial Day. Shoot, we don’t even wait for the actual day. We decorate on the Saturday of the holiday weekend, sometimes before if we have to (but never after – people will talk). The holiday was meant for the decoration of fallen soldiers’ graves, but in Eastern Kentucky at least, we decorate everyone’s grave, whether they served in the military or not. In fact, Mamaw always called it Decoration Day, and it’s a big deal for many families. I never gave it much thought one way or the other, but with age, of course, I am rethinking the tradition. Yes, it’s meant for those who served in the military, but civilians serve their families and communities, too. I don’t have a problem recognizing everyone. We all contribute in some way or other, and we should always give thanks to our ancestors. It won’t be long before the tradition falls to me. Mom and dad are both ill, and they won’t be able to do as much as they have in the past. But perhaps that’s what middle age is about. It’s a bit like the changing of the guard. Such is the cycle of life.