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Carol Perkins: An after the fact commentary on Memorial day

As long as I can remember, I have stomped the hallowed grounds of cemeteries in Adair, Cumberland, and Metcalfe Counties, placing flowers, Carol Perkins says. It's a custom she has practiced with great diligence, making sure that not only her relatives gravesites, but a few strangers as well, are remembered.
The next earlier Carol Perkins column: Carol Perkins: School consolidation offers nicer place to learn

By Carol Perkins

I know this subject is after the fact, but I didn't think of it in time. I always think of things after the occasion, but I am writing about this nonetheless. Today, I am focusing on what I call cemetery flowers. I can't get the dreadful smell out of my nose or out of my car since my trek Memorial weekend to place them on the graves of my relatives.



First of all, I don't find much beauty in artificial flowers arranged on saddles or in pots or on stands to be placed on graves, so it is a bittersweet time for me because I think most of these arrangements are terribly artificial. Some look better than others, but unless a person can pay for the high end flowers arranged by a professional or has a gift for arranging her own, she is often left a trunk full of "ugly" that can cost a "pretty" penny.

As long as I can remember, I have stomped the hallowed grounds of cemeteries in Adair, Cumberland, and Metcalfe Counties, placing flowers for my grandmother on the graves of her parents when my grandmother was alive, and then going with my mother, placing flowers on the graves of my grandparents, and then later placing flowers on the graves of my father, my brother, and my uncle. Usually, I am the one who picks out the flowers and I spend far too much time trying to find ones that "look real" but they never look real enough for me.

I was in a nice little store recently and immediately saw what I wanted. To be artificial, the arrangement looked a little more real than most. The price? $75.00. Now, if a person only had one saddle to buy, perhaps that would not seem like much to spend, but that isn't my case.

I didn't want to put shabby arrangements on the graves of those whose lives were so special to me, so I keep looking and looking and settled on the best looking ones I could find and afford. Then I went home and complained to Guy about my trials of finding the right ones and he replied, "What difference does it make. They aren't going to sit around and talk about the ugly flowers you put on their graves!"

With the back of my truck filled with saddles and pots and stands, I began my journey once again. My mom, one of my uncle, my aunt, and I spent the day placing the flowers, tying them down with wire to keep the wind from taking them across the valley, and looking around at the other flowers. I have to say that among the hundreds of arrangements, I found that mine looked pretty good.

What does one do with the arrangements removed from the tombstone from the previous year? If they still look nice, does one throw them away? I have a confession. For years I have been troubled by those tombstones that no one decorates, so this year I took the three "used" saddles I had removed and put them on the forgotten graves. I recycled. Is that terrible?

If family came, they probably wondered who had left the flowers. That reminds me of the secret admirer who left a red rose at the grave of Edgar Allen Poe every day for many years.

The rest of the leftover flowers go back in my truck until I get home and stuff them into a garbage bag. Then I air out the back of the vehicle to get rid of the stench that always seems to come from old arrangements.

Although I don't like cemetery arrangements and have never found them to be pretty, I do know that the purpose is to pay our respect and show we still think about the ones who are gone.

Frankly, when families leave and silence whips across each cemetery, whether flowers are pretty or ugly is not important. Whether anyone remembered is what mattered. We all want to be remembered.

(You're invited to listen to 99.1 FM this Tuesday from 10am-12pm for Carol and Susan-Unscripted with me, Carol, and Susan - Susan Shirley Chambers - and then again on Sunday from 4pm-6pmCT. Callers are welcome.) - Carol Perkins


This story was posted on 2013-06-02 06:16:29
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