THIS Mother's Day was a little bit different because I spent part of the day at the cemetery, visiting my mother and grandmother and cleaning off their graves.
The small country cemetery is in the woods and I was the only person there. In the horse pasture next door there were frequent, loud whinnies - ponies wanting to be fed something across the fence or wanting to be together with their friends who were in another pasture on the other side of the cemetery. Who knows? I don't speak horse. Whatever, they were speaking loudly and clearly.
This little country cemetery is home to local Oregon pioneers, soldiers, babies and older folks who had full lives. The graves on the far left are my grandfather Ira, grandmother Anna, then Aunt Ellen, my father's sister. In the middle are my father, George, and on his left, my mother, Margaret. On the right are my Aunt Mildred and my Uncle Frank (Samuel). Beyond them, in the small grave, is a 1-year-old girl. She died in 1979.
Someone in our family usually always remembers to bring some flowers for her, too.
Whenever I visit the graveyard I remember how we used to walk through it when we were kids and whisper in the darkness and quiet under the huge fir trees. I never thought someday I would be raking up broken limbs and piles of fir cones shaken off by winter storms.
It was here, in the town of Cherry Grove, I grew up and realized one afternoon - I still remember that hour clearly - that my parents would someday die. I was watching my father swing the silver metal bucket as he took off down the path toward the barn to milk the cows. The sun was setting in the west and I was lying on the grass watching him, tall and strong, going off to do this extra work after eight hours on his real job planing lumber.
Someday Dad is going to die, I thought! I ran into the house to be as close to my mother as I could, shaking, not telling her what was wrong.
I remember "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder and wonder if those in the cemetery are lying there thinking, talking to each other. I wonder if they know we visit them. Do they know we still love them and miss them? Or was it enough, that when they were alive, they knew one day we would? We would miss them like a song we couldn't hear again? A fragrance we couldn't smell? A rainbow we couldn't see?
Well, enough for those thoughts. I was ambitious and got all the graves cleaned off. The grass will get mowed before Memorial Day. After I was finished I drove to my friend Carol's house, which is nearby, and we had a barbecue. The men waited on the mothers. Delish! Here is Carol, talking to her son, Jesse, and being mobbed by granddaughters. Too much of a good thing? No way! And the sun setting as I left the valley where I grew up - femminismo