En route to my sister’s house in MA, my mother and I stopped by the cemetery in Madison, CT. We spent every summer in Madison when we were growing up—and my mother and uncle had been going since they were little.
At first we stayed with my grandparents in a summer cottage they’d purchased from the Madison Beach Hotel; eventually my parents bought their own house a few miles away. These were very casual homes—beadboard walls, no insulation, and ancient knob and tube wiring. My parents’ house saw a steady stream of friends of all ages passing through all summer and fall. Always sheets and towels hung on the clothesline, getting ready for the next batch of guests.
When my grandparents died, my mother and uncle decided to bury their ashes in the cemetery in Madison. My parents bought a second plot next to them, which we had to use far too soon, since my father died in 1991 at the age of 58. I’ve always found the cemetery comforting; I know my father and grandparents aren’t “there” but the plots are a physical place that you can actually visit. Before my mother’s stroke, she visited the graves often, planting flowers (petunias for my grandmother and impatiens for my father), keeping the tombstones neat. At Christmas she always put a wreath at the graves. We’ve tried to maintain the wreath tradition, but we’ve failed miserably at upkeep. When my mother and I went by today, the names were all but obscured by lichen. I cleaned them as best I could, but I will have to go back (soon) with a bucket of water and a brush.
We placed the wreathes at each tombstone, and sent our love to all of them. We miss them all the time, but especially at Christmas.