Memorial Day Haroldsen Style
I have devoted all my free time and energy to our premoving preparations. So right now my blogs and visits are few and far between. However, this weekend is an exception. I have taken a break from my storting and packing duties to go with my Beautiful Wife and children to visit our other children (who have preceded us in moving to Provo.) This visit, of course is tied into our celebration festivities of Memorial Day weekend.
It all started with a very spoiling birthday dinner (for me) on Friday. Saturday morning, we got up early and headed to Provo. The Pirates movie was fun, because of my wonderful companions. The picnic dinner, which followed was great, because all the food was prepared by my Beautiful Wife and by my daughters (who learned to cook from my Beautiful Wife.) I gained ten pounds this weekend. Visiting with old friends at a wedding reception that evening was icing on the cake. My daily phone call to see how my dad is doing and our attendance at church and visit with My Beautiful wife’s mother and husband rounded out our weekend of family visits and family associations.
However, all thorough this weekend of family and friends, the magic of movies, and of food and festivities, I have been thinking of Memorial Day proper. My understanding is that Memorial Day was conceived as a time to remember the fallen soldiers of the American Civil War. By World War I, May 30 was designated as a day to remember all of our fallen soldiers. From those beginnings, Memorial Day has come to include all of our loved ones who have passed on, and is now celebrated on the last Monday of May.
So this weekend, in my idle moments when my mind can wander (mostly while driving the 400-500 miles of our travels), I was thinking of the diverse places many of my loved ones are buried. I have visited the graves of loved ones in Canada, Idaho, Utah, and California. I know of others far away which I haven’t visited. My parents are visiting our Idaho Cemeteries today, decorating the graves and remembering with fondness. I wish I lived closer so I could participate. My children grew up far from where any of our loved ones were buried. So they don’t know of our family tradition. I wish we could have passed on this tradition to them, but it didn’t happen.
So today, I am mentally back in my childhood home observing Memorial Day, "Haroldsen style”.
Memorial Day wasn’t always observed on a Monday. Traditionally it was on May 30th, no matter what day of the week it fell on.
When I was growing up, our Memorial Day routine was always the same. We only did the bare necessities on the farm, which would take us until about 11:00 am. By that time, we had feed everywhere it should be and all the eggs gathered that we could by then. While Dad and us boys were doing the farm work, Mom and the girls were packing away a first class picnic lunch.
As quickly as possible, we would come in from work, get cleaned up and head for Idaho Falls. Our first stop was always at Rose Hill Cemetery. Although I wasn’t even born when he died, Gary Kent was the main thing on my mind. As I stood looking at his grave marker, I could learn little bits and pieces about his life and how he died as I listened to Mom and Dad make comments. But Mom was always very emotional and Dad unusually quiet as we visited Gary Kent’s grave, so I didn’t ask too many questions. Even though I didn’t ever know him in this life, I missed Gary Kent and have always felt an empty spot deep inside, caused by his absence. I always thought of the fact that Gary Kent’s birthday was the day after mine, and that Memorial Day (when we went to visit his grave) was only four days later.
After our visit at the Cemetery, we would go to Tautphaus Park, for our picnic. Tautphaus Park almost adjoins Rose Hill Cemetery. So it was kind of like spending the day with our loved ones who had died.
No one could do a first class picnic like my Mom. There was always more food and more variety than even a hungry boy could possibly hope to conquer. Besides first class picnic areas, Tautphaus Park also had a nice playground area, a carnival ride area and a small zoo. So we had plenty to do, even as kids, for the rest of the day. Even though we would have to pay for our playtime by how early our next morning of chores on the farm would start, our Memorial Day picnics were always a highlight for me as I grew up.
So now I’m here at home, reminiscing about all those good Memorial Day memories and wishing that my children could have the same experience. We live hundreds of miles away from Rose Hill Cemetery or any other cemetery where family members are buried, so with the distance and my immediate family responsibilities, it won’t happen. Maybe next year. We’ll live a hundred mile closer to my childhood roots. Yes, next year I’m going home for Memorial Day. Children! Next year would you like to come along and help me celebrate Memorial Day Haroldsen Style?