For as long as I remember Decoration Day weekend was a very special time for our family. First of all my brother Willard's birthday wa
s on the 30th so we could get together with family to celebrate. The Memorial Day holiday is a time to honor those who gave their lives in the service of our country. In our family we also had special remembrances of all our family members and friends who had passed before. The week before the holiday we would go to the nursery and pick op potted plants like geraniums, zinnias and and iris, sometimes even small rose bushes and other bedding plants if they were available. Back then, we were able to actually plant the flowers on the graves around the headstones. The grounds keepers actually kept them watered throughout the summer. During the week my parents would make plans for visiting the cemeteries at Sterling, and Otis Colorado.
Usually dad would work until noon on Saturday's and ,when we lived close to Sterling, we would go to Riverside cemetery in the afternoon to visit the graves of my dad's side of the family, the Dunn's. Riverside is a beautiful old cemetery with huge trees that were fully grown when I was small. We have old family pictures of my father's family visiting Riverside when there were only small trees and no shade.
There was almost a ritual to prepare the graves for planting. We would take all the plants out of the car and carry them to each location. Dad would then unload the planting soil, canvas tarp, garden tools, hand broom, rags and water. First, any weeds, stray grass or dead plant material was trimmed, pulled and removed. Then, the planting area was prepared and the potted plants were carefully removed from the pots and laid on their side on the canvas. Then the plants were placed in the hole that had been prepared with potting soil and water. After everything was planted, any debris was removed and the stones were lovingly cleaned and polished. Finally, everyone would reverently tell each resting loved one their private thoughts. After the tears. The trip home would be filled with stories and family memories.