Posted by: chlost | May 27, 2013

Cemetery Run….a marathon day


Each Memorial Day weekend, we visit the cemeteries where family members have been buried.

When we were younger, it meant that we visited one cemetery, where Merle’s mom was buried. She died in 1992. She is buried in a very large, gorgeous cemetery in Minneapolis, she shares the place with the likes of Hubert Humphrey, Charles Lindbergh and Tiny Tim. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon on a holiday weekend. We’d bring some flowers, spend some time remembering her, and taking a short tour of the cemetery grounds. The kids almost enjoyed the family obligation.

This year, we are many years older. And unfortunately that means that we have lost several more family members. Strange the way that happens. It sneaks up on you.

On Saturday, we visited four cemeteries, drove 500 miles, and were gone from 8 am to 9 pm. At this point, we’d better not lose any more family members. We just physically would not be able to add another stop to our day.

We visited both my mother- and father-in-law and my husband’s uncle in Minneapolis; Merle’s aunt, grandmother, grandfather and great uncle in a small Minnesota town along the Mississippi River; my father, stepmother, paternal grandmother, and great-grandparents in La Crosse, Wisc, and my sister, maternal grandparents and great grandmother in a small town near the Wisconsin Dells.

Then we turned around and drove home.

This “cemetery run” as I called it brought out a lot of emotion for me. Of course, I felt sadness at the loss of these people I love. It felt right to be there to honor them with some flowers and a few words.

But most of all, it brought home my mortality. All too soon, I am the one who will be reduced to a few letters and numbers on a hunk of stone.

That was not the most disturbing thought, though.

My biggest question of the day…..Who is going to come and put a flower there on my name, or say a couple of words, or tell a story or two about me?



I don’t mind the first so much as long as I get a little of the other as well.



  1. A yearly “obligation” run does not provide immortality. It’s the quiet thoughts, the warm remembering, the laughing stories shared that allow us to live the minds and hearts of those who are left behind.
    I take flowers to the senior center or a nursing home so those who are still with us, and yet often forgotten can enjoy their beauty.
    I’m not saying your tradition is wrong. Just wanted to offer another viewpoint.

  2. Well, hopefully you’re not going anywhere yet…

    ….but, when it’s your time, have someone let me know. I’ll send big, ostentatious. tacky flower arrangements to your grave…. it’ll make the visitors wonder just what kind of woman you were, that you get all these tacky flowers 🙂

  3. Yes, we are at the age where there is far too many cemetery visits to make. Everyone except my mother in law is in adjoining cemeteries. My father’s family plot has my parents, his parents, two of his sisters, a brother in law, his nephew, and two stillborn girls of his nephew’s. There’s room for 2 or 3 more I’m sorry but that is way too many peeps in a plot. When I go there, I remember all of them sitting around the kitchen table on a Sunday afternoon, drinking highballs and smoking and arguing. I was bored out of my mind on those Sundays as a kid, but damn, they sure are silent now.

    You are to be commended for this marathon graveside tour. My husband hates going to his mom’s grave and my kids don’t even consider going except right after my mom died. Though they are alive in our thoughts and memories, it is indeed extremely sobering to see their names on all these stones and wonder when you will be reduced to the same.

  4. We do not have Memorial Day over here as you do. Easter used to be the time when everyone went to the graveyard and decorated the graves ready for Easter Sunday. Now we do nothing special. But memories mean more to me than graves; and I feel you are someone who is making memories for people every day: stories about you will be told for a long time I suspect;)

  5. I don’t visit cemeteries. Those I’ve lost I try to just keep in my heart and memory. I hope someone will do the same for me, since I plan to be cremated and scattered to the winds.

  6. agreed. life is all too short. i often think the same. who’s going to carry my memory around. it sure as heck won’t be my dogs! ugh. so, i try to just be buddhist about it – live in the here and now. it’s all one can do, really. much love, sm

  7. That was thoughtful of you to honor your deceased relatives.

    I’m not good about going to cemeteries. They feel empty to me – sure, the bodies are buried there, but the spirits of those I love are no longer there. Being there just amplifies the sense of loss. I prefer to carry memories of them and share stories with other relatives at gatherings instead. The telling of their stories is what makes them immortal to me.

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