Remember Me

I thought about posting yesterday, for Memorial Day. Growing up, we never celebrated. If that is the correct word for it. Owning a tree farm and nursery, and living above the 5,000 foot elevation mark, Memorial Day heralded open season on gardening in our area. The only military man I knew about was my dad’s older brother who flew something like 21(?) successful bombing missions over Germany in WWII. I never heard that story until dad was well into his seventies, and I’d finally refused to be bent over a pot of dirt flinging handfuls of fertilizer for the entire long weekend. But before I declared my free will, I spent my Memorial Mondays waiting on customers, hauling trees, explaining how to plant, watering greenhouses, and moving pipes in the lower fields.

This year, this year was so different.

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I found myself thinking about those I knew who’d served in the military and (all of mine)  who returned home as safely as is possible. It was one of the first things I learned about my younger brother, his military service. I listened to him talk about it and realized, quite suddenly, that it was a very close call. That I just as easily could have been reading his obituary, having never known about him until too late.

That is something I’ve done quite a lot this year, been too late.

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I absolutely know there isn’t anything I could have done differently. They were lost to me long before I had the tools to find them. Illogically, it doesn’t make me feel any better.

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So, this Memorial Day has been a long one. All the complicated feelings that surround the recent deaths of the parents I grew up with, and my niece only eighteen months ago. Add to that a woman I never met, an older sister whose loss I feel so keenly, I cannot explain it. Then her, the woman who gave birth to me. The story is unfolding to be as tangled and tragic as could be imagined. And him, I grew up having been told he didn’t want me. I now know there isn’t anyway I can believe that piece of information. Nowhere reliable for it to have come from. Yet another white lie told to make a situation acceptable. Perhaps even a belief, not told with malice or intent, but to comfort.

Having written it, the list seems small, but feels crushing. Once again I didn’t go anywhere on Memorial Day. However, this year my mind and heart were in California, Arkansas, Idaho, and Utah laying flowers, fingers tracing names, heart trying to hold it all together.

Truth be told, next year I might pick up a shovel and bucket of fertilizer, plant me a few fucking trees.

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9 thoughts on “Remember Me

  1. So many things to process, indeed, and something that we need to tackle one day at a time, one emotion at a time. My birthday has always fallen either during summer vacation (growing up in the Philippines) and when I moved to the US, Memorial weekend, so either I was going to be partying with friends or spending it at home being introspective. It wasn’t until I shared a house with an 80-year-old woman who’d set up the flag on Veterans Day and Memorial Day and bring it back in before dark that I started really paying attention. She had served in the Marine Corps during the war and knew men who didn’t come back and so each year, even though she was half blind and could barely walk without a cane, she took that flag out and set it up herself. She never wanted me to help her because it was her way of honoring them. Glad to see you back online and yes, next year, we’ll be planting those trees.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. lol
      You might be surprised!
      In retrospect I imagine she was trying to explain to herself why someone gives up their child. For the times and her upbringing, I imagine it’s the only thing that made sense to her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suppose. It’s your job to forgive her, not mine.
        In a different context, when I have heard students say to me, “my parents never wanted me,” I have sometimes asked them if it’s possible in their self-talk to separate “my parents didn’t want a child” from “my parents didn’t want me.” But I think those two thoughts often get conflated linguistically, and in our thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, I need to lighten the hell up! And I will! I’m caught off guard by how much emotional processing I’m constantly doing. You think you get to a certain age and have life figured out… not. Lol

      Liked by 1 person

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