The holiday weekend ended up being much busier than I had anticipated. Here I had hoped for quiet and boring. I got a trip, a movie, and a dangerous experience instead.
When he was young, Merle’s family used the Memorial Day weekend as a time to honor the family members who had died. They visited the cemeteries and cleaned up the graves, sometimes even picnicking at a park nearby. He and I have tried to visit his parents’ graves each Memorial Day now that they are gone.
This Saturday, we took a trip (about three hours) to my aunt and uncle’s who live near the place where my dad, his wife, and my grandparents are buried. We had a nice visit with my aunt and uncle. Talking with him reminded me a lot of my dad. The cemetery is in a very small Norwegian church yard high in the river bluffs. In that area, they call the valleys that run between the bluffs “coulees”. Just as we drove off from the church, a very violent thunderstorm rolled through the area. The coulee had water running down the side roads. So we crossed the equivalent of several small streams, with dirt and mud running in the water. The lightning was fierce. Merle commented later that the thought went through his mind that if we were struck by lightning and killed, everyone would assume that my dad had something to do with it. “Man visiting grave of father-in-law is killed while driving away”-that was the headline he imagined upon our demise. Perhaps my dad didn’t like the roses that we left at the grave, who knows what could happen?
We made it down the bluff and were then driving through very hard rains in the small city nearby. It was raining so fast and so hard that there were flash floods along the roads. We had to go through at least two intersections with knee-deep water. Drivers in four-wheel-drive vehicles would race past us, shooting a wake of water up over our windshield so that we were blinded. It was white-knuckled driving to be sure.
Once we were through that city, the weather calmed down. We then started back toward home via the scenic route. It truly is one of my favorite drives with the bluffs on one side, and the river on the other. Merle’s aunt is buried in a little town along that road. So we stopped and spent some time at her grave, leaving some roses there as well. I am pretty sure that Aunt Grace would have like the roses. Merle’s grandparents are also buried there. He found his great-grandparents grave markers as well. He knew that they were there, but had not found them until then.
When we got back to the city, we visited Merle’s parents’ graves. This is a big city cemetery. They make a big deal out of Memorial Day, with a huge ceremony on Monday. We usually try to go on Saturday to avoid the crowds. We were able to leave some roses there as well. There are many well known people buried in this cemetery, and there are many areas with markers for soldiers from many wars. Why do we have so many dead soldiers, anyway?
We were exhausted when we returned from that trip. I am not religious, and have no particular belief of a heaven or afterlife, but I do like the idea of remembering loved ones. It just feels right to show the respect and love for them, and it is interesting to see the markers of those family members we never met.
On Sunday, we did a lot of work in the yard. It was very hot and very humid here, so working in the yard took a lot of determination. The mosquitoes were horrible. Merle put a craigslist ad online for a boat he is selling (anyone want a boat that isn’t running?), so we had people contacting him, and stopping to see it all day. By the time we went to bed last night, I was bitten, sweating, and dirty. I was glad that Monday was a day off work.
Today, we took my mom out to lunch and then to the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. I don’t think my mom enjoyed it very much. She may have had trouble understanding the British accents. I enjoyed it. The portrayal of India seemed fairly accurate. It was dirty, crowded, colorful, chaotic, and teeming with life. It is not high on my travel list, but I can see how some people would enjoy it. My mom and Merle both said that they would never want to visit India. I read the book that the movie is based on, and the story in the book is better than the movie. Both were enjoyable.
A long weekend. It did not turn out like I had anticipated, but it was wonderful.
Friday seems like it was long ago. I only wish that Tuesday was also far away.