Until my mother died, cemeteries were places I thought of distantly, even when we attended a graveside service. A part of my brain wept and a part refused to acknowledge where we were. When Mom died so suddenly, we sort of knew that she would be buried next to my father in her hometown. Even then, there were discoveries to be made. Apparently there was a plot reserved for me and my husband as well. Now my brain paid attention. The end of my life stared back at me in a way it hadn’t before. We looked around at that community of souls with an understanding of inevitability. I am grateful to have a resting place. The cemetery is on a beautiful hillside, far above the town, with a forest of evergreens providing shade and majesty. The cemetery is distinguished by a four-foot neon football helmet, honoring the long-time football coach, not far away from my family’s plot. So it goes.
I have had three Carl Larsson prints hanging in my home since I first lived on my own. I love his intricate line, his colors, but most of all his subjects: home, family, and everyday life. The book Carl Larsson’s Home was first published in the 1890s and there are still versions of it in print! He had a rough childhood, but he persevered, creating a lovely home life for their children with his wife, artist and interior decorator Karin Bergöö. His art helps me recognize when I am content.
I am grateful for my memories. I’ve gone through two periods of limited access to memory, once after a difficult and long surgery and the other while grieving my mother. There is a comfort in clarity, remembering details and names and songs and smells and colors. The trivia in which I’ve always reveled? Not as important as memories. In my mother’s last years, she could remember her childhood but she could remember nothing of mine (my childhood was a very stressful time for her). These experiences have given me empathy for the many, many people who no longer have connections to their memories. Their families are bereft. They deserve a lot of help and understanding throughout the year but especially during times when families traditionally gather. Sending my love.
As an only child, I am grateful that I grew up with so many second and third cousins. My grandmother had 11 brothers and sisters who frequently got together with their families. These are the MN and WI group in the ’60s … most of the family lived in SD, IA, and IL. That community of relatives was important for feeling loved, welcomed, and connected.