Memorial Day has never been one of my favorite holidays. The reasons go back to my childhood. I grew up in Iowa in the 50’s and 60’s–a time when the excitement over the Indianapolis 500 was surpassed only by the almost assured fact that there would be at least one serious injury to the drivers involved, if not a fatality. This race was the only race I remember my Dad listening to. I was an anxious kid about most things. Putting this race on the radio for what seemed like HOURS was a guarantee I would not have one finger nail left by the time the checkered flag flew.
When I was about seven or eight years old, Memorial Day activities changed. Our family suffered a loss that was very hard for my parents and, I believe, on their marriage. My mom had a very difficult pregnancy, one that sent her to specialists who were not successful in helping her preclude pre-term labor. Her prayers for a baby boy were answered; our prayers for his survival were not. We had one more Memorial Day together as a family, traveling to Waterloo, Iowa, to a cemetery not far from the hospital where Richard Dean Burton lived his short life and died. We did not linger there, I’m not sure my mom even got out of the car. One of us put a small bouquet of flowers on his yet unmarked grave. The short 50 mile journey did not take long. What made it seem long was the static on the radio as it played the sounds of the crowd and the racing engines of the Indy 500.
Shortly after that Memorial Day, my mom was diagnosed with a type of lymphoma. She fought hard but was not able to defeat the disease. Our family and our observation of Memorial Day changed forever. The family going to the cemetery was now smaller, sadder, seriously silent, lost in our own thoughts as the radio played the chatter of yet another Indianapolis 500.
Visiting the cemetery, even though it became one of the most constant traditions of our family, is not one I continue today. I moved from Iowa which gave me an honest excuse. It did not take away the guilt I felt for not going. To give myself some peace, I created a garden as a remembrance of my family members who have died. My garden is named the Donna Bethie Garden in honor of my cousin, Donna, and my sister, Beth. This past week, as pictured in this blog, I was able to get a great start on my garden here at our new home in Texas. I am thankful for the rain that has given it a boost and even more grateful that none of the rain storms came with hail.
And NO Indianapolis 500 coverage at all.
I wish you all a safe and memorable holiday spent in ways that give you joy.