By Marieanne Rose
Planting flowers on our parents’ graves on Memorial Day is something Karl & I have done for many years.
When I was a little girl, my family would spend several weeks in the summer visiting with my grandmother in her large home in Arcadia, Michigan. We would attend Trinity Lutheran Church on Sunday mornings and enjoy a wonderful dinner after church. Sunday dinners at Grandma’s were a formal affair complete with a beautiful linen tablecloth, matching napkins in napkin holders, her china from Germany, freshly polished silver, and the most amazing thing was…my grandmother would always have one extra place setting – including a goblet filled with water – for Jesus, if He came to the door. (He never showed…at least, not when I was there!)
After the dishes were done and if the weather was nice, we would all drive to their little country cemetery. I loved being in that place! We would walk through the whole cemetery and as we stood over grave sites my grandmother would tell stories about the people buried there. It was so interesting and, when no one was watching, I loved climbing on the huge marble monuments erected to honor loved ones.
With those sweet, childhood memories, you can understand why cemeteries are not frightening or intimidating to me… but, really warm and pleasant places. Arcadia Cemetery had big beautiful maple trees, fresh flowers on many of the grave sites and some even had a sweet picture of the departed on a stick, there was an artesian well so you could always hear running water, cooling shade, and this lovely scene was situated on a quiet country road. There was an atmosphere of safety, comfort, and peace.
…cemeteries are not frightening or intimidating to me…but, really warm and pleasant places.
After Karl and I married, I suggested we offer to bring Karl’s Mom to the cemetery in Detroit on Memorial Day where his Dad, grandparents, and parent’s siblings were buried. We offered…she loved the idea, and so was born a new family tradition. We would stop to buy petunias, pick up Grandma, and plant our flowers on the graves. We usually brought small American flags for those family members who had served in the military and planted them above the graves.
When Karl’s Mom died, we continued this tradition and after I lost both my parents, a trip to Arcadia was added as part of our yearly ritual. This was one way to show respect and love… our version of doing the “right thing” to honor our parents!
Last year (May, 2017), we had an experience that was pretty amazing! We’d purchased some lovely geraniums in Ann Arbor and drove north to the small town cemetery in Arcadia where my parents and their ancestors are buried. It was a perfectly beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-70’s, the sky was clear, and the sun shining. We planted those beautiful plants, watered them and then something shifted. It occurred to me that Karl and I should pray for our children and grandchildren.
It occurred to me that Karl and I should pray for our children and grandchildren.
In all the years we’ve visited and cared for our family graves, we hadn’t done that. Karl agreed, praying was a good idea. We held hands over their graves and as we began to pray, I sensed my Dad physically walk into the scene. I didn’t mention what I was seeing, I just kept praying for the things on my heart… about the concerns we have with our children, our deep love for God, and God’s love for all of us. It was the perfect ending!
Returning to the car, I said, “Karl, I don’t want to frighten you, but… as I was praying, I sensed my Dad’s presence with us.” He looked stunned… and quietly responded, “I’m so glad you said something because, as you were praying, I actually felt your Dad walk right up to me. I thought I must be losing my mind!” How gracious of God to allow us both to experience the same thing… separately… so we wouldn’t write it off to active imaginations…but grasp what had actually happened!
How gracious of God to allow us both to experience the same thing….separately…so we wouldn’t write it off to active imaginations…but grasp what had actually happened!
We will continue to serve our parents in this way until we are no longer able, but we will never forget the amazing day when our gracious Lord allowed Daddy to come and join us in praying for our children!