As the Memorial Day week-end ushers in the season of early summer, I am reminiscent of my Grandma who truly is one of the great loves of my life. As she entered into her final years she became somewhat fixated on the upkeep of her impending cemetery plot. Her name had already been engraved upon the shared stone as my step-grandfather had died some years previously. It was her tradition to make sure that the family plots were decorated for the Memorial Day holiday, a tradition she took very seriously. As she was not physically able to do the actual decorating, she began early in the month of May to find the person that would be commanded to help in that particular calendar year. My grandma was not one to suffer fools lightly, a saying that she used and took to heart. If someone was going to give an excuse as to why they were not able to help her decorate the graves on what for her was such an important occasion, they were sure to endure one of the forms of grandma’s wrath. Even if the chosen reaction was her infamous silent treatment, you could not mistake the power of her punishment.
You see Grandma wanted to be extra sure those graves were decorated yearly because she was adamant that her own grave would never go unadorned. She would threaten to haunt the family members who allowed “Decoration Day” to go by unacknowledged. She clearly equated that slight with being forgotten after she had left the earth plane. Though I have never placed a single flower upon my grandma’s grave, I have never forgotten the powerful woman who gave my mother life and so greatly enhanced my own. She was a relentless tyrant in many ways. She had ruthlessly strong opinions and life-long prejudices that frequently made me blush. And yet I loved her and love her still. While I can easily report upon her foibles I can also readily recall her radiance. She had a laugh that could light a room and an integrity upon which she could and did build a family. This writing is my way of remembering her this year. This blog is my Memorial Day tribute to my precious Grandma.
The deeper lesson for me of the Memorial Day holiday and of the preceding story is that though I was brought up with a tradition of decorating grave plots as a way of honoring the deceased it is more my personal practice to bring conscious honor to my relationships while we are still in this incarnate state. I do not so much share Grandma’s interest in being remembered after I am gone. I do choose to live in such a way as to leave a legacy that I trust will expand and transform the field of human consciousness. I feel no need to have a plot of land where people may come and visit and pay homage. If I am indeed remembered I pray that it will be because of the way I lived and the way I loved. I pray that a memory of me will be of the felt-sense way I made you feel when you were with me. The unwavering attention I gave to you, and my heartful invocation that called forth the best in you when you were in my presence. I will not pretend to ignore your human flaws and foibles, yet I will always embrace them as a unique part of your perfect sacred emergence. I will hold no judgment about the way you walk your path, anymore than I do about my strong willed yet wondrous Grandma. I will die daily to my personal opinions of myself and of you and of the way that life is unfolding.
And maybe that is at the core of the Memorial Day holiday. Everyday is a day to remember who and what has gone before, and yet it is also an invitation to die to the interpretations of such that keep us fixated on perceptual graves where there truly is no life. Everyday is a day to attend to the living. It is a day to honor the person that is right before you, even if that person is triggering the wounding that you are here to heal. If there are flowers to be given, give them now. If there are accolades to be spoken, speak them now. If there is praise to be proclaimed, proclaim it now. It will be the things left unsaid that will haunt you later, not the graves that go undecorated. Remember and see and feel it all this Memorial Day holiday. Shed the tears you perhaps never shed, and internally say what is calling to be said. And then live. Live this day as if it were your last. Love as if you won’t get another chance. Give your very best to this day, and know that when it is your time to go, you will have truly lived.
You see, Grandma. I did remember.
SEE CALENDAR ON SITE FOR CURRENT LISTING OF EVENTS