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Senior Contributor

cematery duty

Today I traveled 15 m. one way to gravesite of my dad's parents and decorated grave with a modest (I'm tight I guess) floral display.  Then onward to my mom's family andother 20+ m. to do the same.  Then home and tomorrow I'll go to my dad's and to DH's parents' in another cemetary both pretty local.  Just wondered if this a practice of our parents generation or if there are some who still make the effort.  My cousin's husband doesn't believe in it.  His belief is that his parents souls are with the Lord.  True but I remember going with my grandmas on both sides for this ritual and would probably feel guilty (and haunted) if I didn't make the effort.  My one grandma used to meet her sisters & cousins and packed a picnic lunch to eat by the car after they decorated.  Weird but no McDonalds back then.

 

Our little town decorates the park with hundreds of flags that have been bought by family members in memory of loved ones who served in the military.  Beautiful.  Also a service of sorts with refreshments on Memorial Day.

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16 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: cematery duty

I really understand the tradition and when I was young I went to the grave sites with FRESH picked flowers. I no longer do that and I strongly detest artificial flowers that cover cementaries year round.

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Honored Advisor

Re: cematery duty

 

 

Your comment about the fake flowers reminded me of the floral design classes I took for a few weeks once.  My family has probably done that route for eons...seems I remember plastic ones before silk came along. 

 

I dislike artificial flowers for the most part, too...just threw out a couple of pretty expensive arrangements, just because I was tired of dusting, afraid Winn would graze on them, etc.  I still have a few silk orchids in pots that look very realistic...when you see them in the trash, you will know I am done with fake forever. 

 

I think it all boils down to time in most people's minds...they wouldn't take the time you have and will, to show respect the way you do.  I think where the artificial flowers fall out of favor, and what botheers me, is seeing poinsettias in summertime, faded and raggedy-looking. 

 

It is like those garden flags that people used to hang on the porch post, and often forgot about for years, until they were tattered and no one could tell what they were meant to celebrate.  If you aren't going to keep something like that up, then why start it at all? 

 

I am great at managing the flags and mats at Jenna's house, and tend to keep them aseasonal for the most part there and here.  Just when they start to look ratty, they have to go. 

 

As for showing respect to the dearly dparted, it is a personal matter in my mind.  I know I talk a lot about Jenna's house;but, that was Mike's father and mother's home, too, and we often talk about his deceased father - who was the best friend I ever had - when we are there, especially.  Even hitting a hole in the lane on the way in or out will get us laughing about how he and the kids would putter around in the afternoons and summertime, fixing stuff like that. 

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Contributor

Re: cematery duty

Oh yes!  Decoration at my husbands farmily cemetery is the second Sunday in September.  Before his grandmother died, everyone brought a covered dish and met at his grandmothers.  This included family as well as other families who had relatives buried there.  It was quite a reunion.  Also, a minister was  present to give a short sermon.  This day and time only a few bring flowers for the graves.  We still do.  I make sure I have plenty of Dahlias in my vegetable garden so I will have plenty for decoration.  There are six generations of my husbands family buried in this cemetery.  His great-great-great grandmother is buried in the same grave as her husband, which I found quite interesting.  She died several years later, but they said they fixed a shelf above him and buried her.

 

When TVA built  Fontana dam in western N. C., they moved the people and cemetery to higher ground.  Every year the forest service take the people across the lake on a ferry so they can decorate the graves.  This is how important this tradition is for us mountain people.

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Senior Contributor

Re: cematery duty

I kind of feel that I'm still doing "something" for my Moma & Daddy, fully realizing what a waste of money it is, but I like to do. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: cematery duty

When mom & dad were picking a cemetary for their plots, they wrangled with his in one town & her families in another.  Instead they chose our local church cemetary as dad said "Linda will have to take care of the flowers & this location is most convenient".  So that's my legacy.

 

Now we wrangle with the site also.  His family's or my family's.  Toss a coin. 

 

I often take fresh flowers out Memorial day morning, before the services if I have them but I really don't mind silk arranagements for the graves as long as they look fresh.  I had hostas planted beside my MIL's headstone until my FIL weedeated them off.  LOL

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: cematery duty

We always did a freash urn on my grandparents grave on both sides of my family and on my uncles grave.  That was a important job for me in the spring to pick out the flowers and plant the urns for Memorial Day.  I didn't go along very often to place the flowers but I took care of getting the urns ready.  I always try to put freash flowers out when I go home to visit my parents.  I try sneak in a cemetary visit and leave flowers if I get the chance. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: cemetery duty

Those are all nice traditions for your families, I just choose not to do that anymore myself. But I should have added that my sister, the former florist, does put silk flowers out. And I drive by a least or twice during the year. I have lots of family in the same cemetery.

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Senior Contributor

Re: cematery duty

One of my relatives, she has passed a few years back, once said that the church will take care of her grave for flowers. Even had money bequested to the church. Her grave is in a different state so I wonder if it really is decorated like she wanted.

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Honored Advisor

Re: cemetery duty

Family cemeteries seem to fall to neglect so much in our part of Carolina/Virginia, unlike hortonfarm's great mountain tradition of a reunion at them every year.

My father's family one was my chore to mow as a kid, then it was moved for the mining to pass through. I remember being taken to the homestead before that one, and none of the graves has permanent markers. Mike's family graves are partly still on his place, but his grandfather was moved to be with his grandmother in a city cemetery.

There are at least two cemeteries on our land here in Carolina. One was literally in a junkyard, which has spread out around the old country store/garage we bought a few years back. I had researched the land parcel, and saw graves marked on the old plats...it made me sad to think how sacrilegious it was to have junked cars all over and around it.

After we bought the acreage and store, that family approached us about cleaning up and fencing it in...amazingly, their last name is the same as our SIL's, but his family came out of Sacramento. They had no idea how many graves were there, and it turned out to be a dozen or so. I think they are hoping their local younger relatives will keep it cleaned up when they are gone, but it is often not long before they look worse than ever.
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