When I think about spending time with my kids, taking them to a cemetery isn’t on the top of my list.
I can’t say I feel especially comfortable spending time in a cemetery. Fortunately, I haven’t needed to attend a lot of funerals. I recognize what a blessing this is.
This past weekend, while visiting family, my Dad announced we would be taking a field trip to the cemetery to visit our family members who have passed away.
My Dad doesn’t ask a lot of us and if he wanted us to visit the cemetery, we weren’t going to disappoint him.
“Dad wants us to all go to the cemetery tomorrow,” I said to my Brother Thursday evening at our Thanksgiving dinner.” He looked at me with a perplexed expression.
“You’re not going to say no,” I said, being the older bossy big sister, “Dad expects us all to be there and we’re going to be there.”
“That’s fine,” my Brother said, “We can do that.”
We agreed to meet at the cemetery around noon, all twelve of us, at my Mom’s graveside.
There we stood, not sure what to do, feeling a little awkward. We looked at one another but didn’t really say anything. I could tell my kids felt uneasy and uncomfortable.
That’s when my Dad announced his plan.
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We would be starting at the oldest member of our family’s graveside and then work our way back to my Mom’s graveside. We would spend the most time there and say a prayer together.
Happy to have some direction, we all walked to my Great-Grandmother’s plot where we were instructed to share any memories or stories we had of her. My kids never met her and I barely remember her, but there were beautiful stories that were shared by older family members who knew her. They painted a picture of the woman she once was. We continued with this format and visited seven family members in total, stopping along the way to remember other people we once knew.
It was a beautiful day to share beautiful stories of beautiful people.
We remembered happy times and shared memories of years past. We tried to describe the people who had come before us so that our children, who would never meet these people, would get a glimpse into their past.
I have to admit, I was skeptical when my Father first shared with us his idea of our family taking a field trip to the cemetery. I thought of a lot of other places I wanted to spend my time while I was at home.
I was wrong.
It was a lovely experience and a good reminder of how I fit into the succession of my family.
People came before me.
People will come after me.
One day, I hope family members I never get to meet will take the time to visit my graveside and remember me. I hope they’ll feel a connection to me and my place in our family history.
As we finished the tour at my Mom’s graveside, told stories of her and tried to describe to our children the incredible woman she was, my niece ran around the cemetery chasing a butterfly and giggling. I hope my Mom was smiling down on us, happy that we were there, hearing the laughter of her Granddaughter and knowing how connected to her we still are.
Take the time to share the past with your present, especially with your children. You’ll be glad you did.
Find meaning each day,