We took a belated Memorial Day cemetery tour today...well, actually, today IS the traditional Memorial Day until it was changed into the "FIRST WEEKEND OF SUMMER" holiday in the early 1970s. Mom has always taken flowers to the graves of her loved ones on Memorial Day, the traditional day or Monday, whichever. Since she moved to Grand Island 7 or so years ago, she and I have continued the tradition. Some years we spent the night at the Red Roof but that got to be too much for her about three years ago. This year my daughter Liz and her two kids joined us and we rode in her van. With the heat and mom's strength not being what it used to be, I wondered if she really wanted to go. But one thing about mom, she will never say no to a question that begins "Do you want to go...?"! Mom was able to get in and out of the van with the help of a handy old fruit crate that was just the right height. She was excited to see the country and mostly remembered who lived where along the way. We hit the road about 9 o'clock for the Basic Cemetery Tour.
The Basic Cemetery Tour includes stops at four cemeteries. First we drive by the house they lived in in Sargent for about 23 years to see that all is well with it. Then we head west to West Union cemetery. There are several great tombstones in the cemetery, including two that we saw today that are in the form of tree trunks. Liz and I learned last year on the Grand Island Cemetery tour that you can count the branches that come out from the trunk to see how many of the person's children lived to adulthood. Branches cut off flush with the trunk indicate children who died in infancy. If you have the chance to go on the cemetery tour around Memorial Day, do it. You will be amazed at all there is to learn about cemeteries and tombstones.
Dad is buried next to his first wife, Florance Predmore Baker Russell. She died during an operation for a bleeding ulcer. They had been married for about nine months. I'm sure at the time dad never thought he would ever remarry - he was 38 when he married her, his first marriage. So he bought the plots and had his name put on the tombstone and went back to living the life of a bachelor farmer.
Also buried in the West Union cemetery is dad's mother, Della West Patch Russell. She is buried beside her first husband, Louis Patch. (Dad's parents divorced after the children were grown.) Her grave is towards the north end of the cemetery and dad's is near the south end, close to the flag pole. Dad told me that his mother didn't really like the idea that he had gotten married and she didn't really like Florance. I wonder if that is why he picked a burial plot quite a ways away from hers. Maybe not. Maybe all the plots around grandma were for her other children. Eunice, Ralph, and Earl are buried near their mother (Della). (Lola is buried in Montana and Glen in Wyoming.)
Back on the road and we go to the cemetery in Taylor to pay our respects to Uncle Gerald Jones. This trip, mom didn't get out of the van at the cemeteries, but we stopped and talked and Liz and I took photos. (I must have taken a picture on moms camera instead of mine! Next trip!)
Usually, we stop at the Almeria cemetery next but this year the kids were getting hungry (and so were the adults!) so we headed for the Red Roof. Thanks, brothers, for your hospitality, even when you're not there! We ate our lunch in the shade of the ancient cottonwoods and when we were done we headed for the Brewster cemetery.
Mom usually brings peonies for George's grave but mine were done blooming already this year. Also in this cemetery are Aunt Nellie and Uncle Dewey. Pictures of those tombstones another time.
Back on the road with a final stop of the day at the Almeria cemetery. I told Liz we should bring divining rods sometime like the cemetery tour guide talked about and demonstrated at the Grand Island cemetery tour. I understand there are quite a few unmarked graves in the southeast corner of the Almeria cemetery.
Relatives buried at the Almeria cemetery include mom's parents, Frank and Elizabeth Jones, William Jones, George and Flora (Swift) Worth, John and Ann (Dugdale) Worth, Samuel E. Worth (known to us as Uncle Ed), Walter and Stella Worth, John, Freddie, Robert, Lester and Harriet Worth, infant children of George and Flora Swift Worth and our cousin Debra Buckbee Dunbar.
Some weekend this summer I hope to take the Extended Cemetery Tour, which includes Somerford, Moulton, Westerville and Ansley cemeteries. I'll post about that when (if) it happens.