My grandma would make me go with her to take peonies to my grandpa's and her parents' graves on Memorial Day. She always wrapped the stems in foil and had a little glass jar from some food like pickles. In my memory that was what Memorial Day was about.
Then after my dad died, my mom and my aunt got into a competition over my dad's grave. Often my aunt would put out her artificial arrangement first and my mom would move it when she brought her own. After all, it was her husband's grave. One year my mom took the flowers off my aunt's arrangement and put them on her arrangement and took my aunt's holder home. It caused my uncle to call up my mom and yell at her. My mom out lived them both, so there will be no fight over the arrangements on the graves this year.
But, that silly feud makes me think of arguments over property rights and the treatment of others. Surely my mom should have tried to work out something with my aunt and uncle rather than "taking their flowers." But it was her husband's grave and someday will be hers. She bought and paid for it. She was a widow decorating her husband's grave and isn't that the purpose of the flowers? I bet my dad didn't care. If I could call him up in heaven and ask him, he would laugh. I know my dad would laugh.
But the yelling at my mom caused her to be very upset and have a high blood pressure episode. She recovered, she is still alive, after all, but it was a break in the always tenuous relationship with my aunt and uncle. I try to imagine in Christian love how the yelling and hateful behavior fits in. I know that my aunt and uncle were shocked by my mother's nerve in taking their flowers and were just reacting. They were human people. They went to church and did many good things in their lives. If yelling at my mom was the worst thing they did, and it may well have been, that isn't a case for keeping them out of heaven. They were good and loving people.
But, in reflecting on Memorial Day this year on Monday, May 31st I consider love and forgiveness. I consider hateful behavior and love. And I remember my grandma's little peony bouquets, stems wrapped in foil teaching me how to remember where the graves were in the cemetery. My dad would have laughed, is laughing in heaven. Surely as we remember our dead and especially those who died in wars, I pray that we all can become more good and loving people.
Happy Memorial Day.