The colors at the Maple Leaf Cemetery in Arkansas were not as brilliant this year as they have been in years past. No matter. The Moss clan still gathered for what has become our annual ritual of visiting mom and dad and sprucing things up around the graves.
Angie's lawn chair (circa 1978) was there. Holding a grand daughter,who was holding a great grand daughter, answering questions about cemetery things.
The boys did a most excellent job edging Dad's military service marker. Garrett and Gavin get high marks for sharing the clippers equally. Cutting things is lots of fun when you are 6 1/2 years old.
Stories were told about Dad working his border collies in the field next to where they are buried. We talked about why we like to leave rocks on the headstones as a sign that we have been here. Old flowers were removed. Dirt was brushed off. Spiders were avoided.
Leaves were gathered for a garland we made to put over the mantle in the cottage we were staying at.
Lots of questions were asked about the graves of babies and young children. As a palliative care nurse I am often asked what to tell children when someone is dying. Should they visit? Should they go to the funeral? My niece Krissy needed no advice from me. She did what I always tell families to do. Answer the questions honestly. Answer just what they are asking and make your answer simple. Kids will ask more if they want to know more.
Death is a part of life. Exposure in small doses at a young age is good. Participating in loving rituals like this is beneficial for people of all ages.
People who are dying sometimes worry they will not be remembered by young children. I always tell them they will live on in the stories that are passed from one generation to the next. Over time, sometimes it's hard to remember if you were there for an event or if you remember because of stories. Either way, it's good stuff.