Yesterday was my 62nd birthday, and as tradition OFTEN (as opposed to ALWAYS) dictates, I spent part of it in the cemetery. Because the anniversary of my birth no longer falls on Memorial EVERY year, there are those times when the rotating holiday lands a full week before May 30th, and grave decorating is NOT part of the birthday celebration. During those off-times, I actually miss the tradition as so many memories are wrapped up in that birth-Memorial Day observance.
While I am sweetly honored by family and friends on my special day, I am also happy to honor my father, mother-in-law, and father-in-law by placing flowers at their headstones. This year, I shook my head in disbelief as I realized Daddy has been gone for nearly 3 years. Impossible. G.E.’s father, “Chuck”, left us nearly 15 years ago; but Grandma Salisbury, “Pat”, passed away almost 25 years ago at age 62. (Did you catch the correlation between her DEATH age and my CELEBRATED age? Distressing!)
Ann Cannon, my favorite columnist and blog friend, wrote today about the reflective nature of visiting cemeteries. She should know as she lives near and walks daily through the Salt Lake Cemetery. Ann observed through the wise words of a clergyman that our earthly lives are finite, and that we’ll NEVER have enough time; therefore, we should “CHOOSE to make the time we have together SWEET.”
I am sure that my kind mother-in-law did not realize that when she left for her daily walk that September morning that she would no longer be able to sweeten the time she had left with her “Chuck,” her children, or her grandchildren. I know she looked forward to baking more “sweet” bread for all of us who loved it; to reading stories and playing the organ for grandsons and daughters; to attending missionary farewells, weddings, and baby blessings; and to talking and listening to family and friends reminisce, reflect, and predict about times past, present, and future.
Her unexpected passing so many years ago reminds me that while it is impossible for every minute of every day to be sweet; it is possible to find the sweetness in each day – even if it’s just a minute. And then when the shadows fall for the final time, we can hope we have tasted more days of sweetness than hours of bitterness.
That is my hope, especially this year as I turned 62.