Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Memorial Day Flowers

I always feel I should write more on my blog, but it kills fifteen minutes or more that I could be doing something else, like building a bird house or transplanting a Large Yellow Ladyslipper before an earth-mover smashes it, which was my mission this morning before we went out to the cemetery.

I've outlived a lot of people. Young people are too alive to worry about cemeteries. They don't have as many friends names etched in the granite as they walk slowly through through the grass down the alleys of markers. Remembering. So as the oldest, still  upright and above ground, I am delegated to flower eight graves. 

It's a old cemetery by local standards, filled with long dead Danes - Nelsons, Hansons, Petersons, Jacobsons and a scattering of Bergs. As I was putting flowers on the grave of Lorna's parents, Bob and Florence Hanson, I remembered that when Florence died, instead of money in an envelope, my Dad paid for the stone. I don't know how Bob felt about that, but it meant the world to my much younger brother, Kirby and my sister, Lona.

After planting two flowers for them I moved to the grave beside them, their granddaughter, Kristina Marie Hanson - Born June 30, 1981, Died June 9, 2006. 25. For three years there were a handful of Indian wrist bangles that Addy left on top of the stone for her. Last year they were gone. I really should get more bangles for her.

I took my tools and plants across the road to my grandparent's grave, Rev Neil Berg & Nellie Berg. Both lived long, full lives into their 90s and I loved them both dearly. As much as I've ever loved anyone.

Then I diagonalled across to the northwest corner, along the way noting the names of the great-great-grandparents of my childhood friends. Last year I must have become distracted, because intending to put flowers on Lorna's grandparent's grave, I put the flowers on someone else's site. So this year I carefully noted, Harry D. & Adena Nelson. Adena, my daughter's namesake, and also the namesake of cousin Judi's cat. I did not know Harry D., but I have not heard many good things about him. On the other hand, Adena was nameworthy. 

As I walked east to another Berg section I passed my other grandparents, Martin & Ella Cassel. Their site had already been tended, so I moved on to my kid brother Kirby. Kirby Miles Berg, (Father of Jamie Berg)  Born Sep. 21, 1961 - Died Dec. 16, 1990. 29 years. He died in a house fire, the hardest day of my life. 

Then the next stone up the road to my parents. The names are wrong. It says Marlin Berg & Nadine Berg. It should say Bud Berg & Chicken Berg, then people would know who was really under that big polished black stone. I noticed on my parent's marker, in small letters below their names, it reads, "Together in the Garden". It struck me then that gardening was the one of the few things they had in common at the end, other than their children, and they did their best to divide us up between them too. I gave them two plants anyway.

Because the Cassels had been covered, I had one plant extra and realized I had forgotten my uncle, Jay Berg, pronounced "Jayberg", never Jay. So it was back across the cemetery one more time. My Grandma Nellie was still alive when he died. It was hard on her, burying her baby, the last of her three sons. She outlived them all. When Jayberg died it was a short service - a song, a prayer and cousin Dan and I placed the urn of ashes in the grave. Then I wheel Grandma in her wheelchair to another section of the cemetery to distract her. She didn't like the cremation anyway and I we knew she would be just mortified to see Thane Nordlin, one of Jayberg's favorite neighbor kids, putting another can in the hole. By Jayberg's wishes it contained the ashes of his old dog, Benji. I'd have given Benj a plant too, but I only had one left so it went to Jayberg.
They will have to share.


George A said...

Solemn work but comforting and healing for the worker.

My boat building buddy Bill and his wife went to central Pennsylvania yesterday to tend to her family's graves and to take his 93 year old aunt out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. She had a plate of pasta and belted down a big glass of wine.

If I'm rich enough when I die I'm going to have a "table tome" and endow it with enough money so that free beers can be set out on the table once a year. A table full of good beers should make the cemetery a little less mournful.

Oldfool said...

This time of year I find that writing gets in the way of living life. I have a small window in the mornings when I can do about anything but past noon and I am not worth a damn at anything except lunch and a nap. It gets progressively worse as the day wears on so if I don't get it done in the four hours or so of morning it waits until tomorrow.

I really love graveyards. They are full of the only people I am comfortable around. I am the oldest living in my family and have little contact with the remainder. I think I may be too old for them. What family I have is buried in various graveyards from Arkansas to Texas with a couple of outlyers in Oregon. I don't believe in an afterlife but I would tend their graves if it were physically feasible. Not for them of course since they are beyond knowing or caring but for myself. I think you know what I mean.

Gunnar Berg said...

I left the village, I left the church early. My friends, family scattered to the winds, but people come home to be buried.

Anonymous said...

All gone except for me. When my dear wife died 4 years ago, I felt so alone that it prompted me to search out the gravesites of family members from both sides and tend to them, as there was noone else left to do it. Every year, I make the trip from Boston, Ma. out to Duquesne, Pa. to visit with the 3 generations of various family members buried on those steep hillsides. My parents were both cremated. I used to think that would be the way to go...but now I am not so sure. My two children are both in their teens and except for living through the long illness and untimely death of their Mother, remain fairly free of the weight that Mortality can place on one's shoulders.

Good work you're doing in that graveyard. Have a happy and reflective holiday weekend.


Rick M.

Gunnar Berg said...

Rick. I ache for you. Aloneness is far worse than loneliness.

Johann Rissik said...

Written with soul, Mr Berg.

Gunnar Berg said...

Thank you Johann, good to hear from S.A. again.