Starting a family of your own, you start to have your own traditions. I remember growing up always going to see all the graves of the family members that had passed every year on Memorial Day. This Memorial Day I felt like it was time to bring this tradition back.
We got up and set out for our journey to find all our grandparents. Fortunately we live close to two of the three cemeteries that we were planning to visit which made the adventure a little easier.
We first went to visit my Aunt Darlene who was like a grandma to me. My mom has seven older sisters and Darlene was one of the older ones. Her kids were the same age as my mom. Many nights we slept at her house, played with her collection of dolls and would stay up late watching movies like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins and Sound of Music.
Close by her was my amazing Grandma Johnson. I always will remember her gentle hugs, giving me Juicy Fruit gum, money for 7/11 and bus rides to the park.
Next to her is my Grandpa Johnson who had passed away when my mom was 16. I never met him, but he had to have been an amazing man being able to raise eight gorgeous daughters and one fantastic son.
From there we went to visit my wife’s grandparents. She still has some that are alive, so we visited her dad’s parents.
Memories she has of them were their ever present desire to love and serve quietly. Grandma Ericson was all about the traditions and making memories. 4th of July cousin sleepovers in her backyard, creating family floats in the parade, to creating unique embroidered handmade stockings for each grandchild at Christmas. She made sure that family was alway first. Grandpa Ericson made everyone feel like they were his favorite. He always greeted us with a squeeze and went out of his way to help wherever and whenever possible. She remembers borrowing his truck to go to a drive in and returned it with a little dent in the door. She was in tears as she told him what had happened and he confidently replied that she was more important to him than any car. The truck always carried that dent as a little reminder of his love.
Finally we got in the car, drove downtown to the Salt Lake City cemetery. This is the biggest cemetery and trying to remember where family members are buried can be difficult. I may have had to call my sister (several times) to have her tell me exactly where to go.
Finally finding it I made sure to remember the landmarks that brought me to them. My grandpa Dunnigan was always such a quiet yet hard working guy. I can still see him walking through his orchard checking his apples trees. And we can all thank my grandma Dunnigan for teaching me the proper use of Emily and me or Emily and I.
Memorial Day is here to help us remember who have passed on, but especially those who served from our country.
What an amazing site it is to see the fields of gravestones lined with American flags each and every Memorial Day. I hope that I can continue visiting these sites every year and keeping the memories of those that have passed on in the minds of my children.