In Honor of Family and Friends on Memorial Day

No one left to remember

Joseph Lickteig 1818-1896
Joseph Lickteig 1818-1896

A Memorial Day tribute

 

I spent most of my time Sunday either at cemeteries or on the road to cemeteries in honor of Memorial Day. I drove my parents through four cities to pay tribute to lost loved ones. There is a graveyard behind their house in Lawrence, but we also visited Ottawa, Scipio and Garnett—all small towns in eastern Kansas. (It should be noted that a short distance west of Lawrence is the famous Stull Cemetery, but fortunately a trip to the source of numerous urban legends was not on the agenda.)

It didn’t escape my notice that it takes longer to visit grave sites on Memorial Day weekend than it used to. More friends and family members have passed away. I recognize death is the inevitable end of the life cycle, but the task of visiting more graves than ever before seemed daunting. It was a challenge to remember both where those who passed away long ago are buried, and also to find graves I had never seen before, trying desperately to recall details from funerals attended earlier in the year. It is a solemn duty, but it is also a task that offers a sense of inner peace. Visiting the grave sites of over a dozen family members and several friends somehow made me feel connected to forces greater than myself. It was a nice day.

 

Ottawa, Kansas

My Aunt Delores, who died as a teenager
My Aunt Delores, who died as a teenager

Otttawa, Kansas

My Grandfather
My Grandfather

Ottawa, Kansas

 

My journey began in Ottawa, where I paid tribute to my grandfather, an aunt who died as a teenager a year before I was born, and two different great-aunts and uncles. My father is 91 and didn’t want to walk much, but he got out of the car to put flowers on my aunt’s tombstone. Mom’s little sister was very dear to both my mother and father. Another relative drove into the cemetery directly behind us, and took a few moments to chat with my parents. On our way out of town, we stopped at the grade school my mother attended approximately 70 years ago. As I strolled about looking at this beautiful old building, I noticed a collection of writing assignments scattered on the grounds, written by a third grader named Cole. He wrote of bicycle mishaps and Halloween parties and I suspected that, in some ways, this young boy was very much just like the children my mother went to school with in the 1930s.

Garnett, Kansas

Cracked tombstone
Cracked tombstone

Garnett, Kansas

Liz died on Art's birthday
Liz died on Art's birthday

Garnett, Kansas

 

Two aunts and uncles were buried in Garnett. Their graves were among the hardest to find, and visiting them seemed a bit sad for me. I noticed with interest that my aunt died on the birthday of her husband, who passed away earlier in the year. I enjoyed their company greatly and miss them at family gatherings. They were always so appreciative of opportunities to spend time with family that they were a joy to be around. When I visited the tombstone of another aunt, I noticed a wide crack stretching downward from the top of the marker. It was sad to see her grave marker damaged, but at the same time it added something unique to her resting place.

Scipio, Kansas

Great grandparents
Great grandparents

Scipio, Kansas

Grandparents
Grandparents

Scipio, Kansas

 

Scipio is a small town between Ottawa and Garnett and is the birthplace of my father. The cemetery is behind a church with a towering steeple that can be seen from miles away. This tiny graveyard at the end of a rock road is the final resting place for many of my ancestors including my grandparents, their parents, and several aunts and uncles. Many tombstones date back to the Civil War, and it is a strange feeling to look at some of the oldest grave markers. Seeing these old, ornate monuments compelled me to wonder what the lives of ancestors who died decades before I was born was like. How did they live, and under what circumstances did they die? I was saddened to notice how many markers honored boys and girls who lived for only days or weeks. There were far too many of them. I also wondered about the graves without flowers or balloons, standing in honor of men and women who passed away so long ago that no one remembered them any more. I placed a few flowers on graves of ancestors who died before my father was born—it seemed right to honor them, even if they died over one hundred years ago.

Lawrence, Kansas

The view from my parents' back yard.  A storm was approaching
The view from my parents' back yard. A storm was approaching

Lawrence, Kansas

A unique marker.  The tree stump symbolizes a life cut short
A unique marker. The tree stump symbolizes a life cut short

Lawrence, Kansas

 

My travels ended where they began—in Lawrence. My grandmother, my brother and a close friend are all buried here. My grandmother and brother rest approximately 100 yards away from my parents’ back yard, which makes it quite easy to stop by for an occasional visit. My father chose not to get out of the car this time—the death of his oldest son is still painful to him. (This graveyard also happens to be the final resting place of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.) My friend is in a small cemetery down the street. His tombstone is most unique and was crafted by his sister—a beautiful tribute I know he would approve of.

After my journey ended, I felt calm and at peace. It was a day not of sad remembrances, but of happy ones. In a way, it felt similar to family reunions I attended when I was younger. I would like to believe that all the family and friends lost to death over the years are celebrating somewhere. There is something comforting in such an image. I just hope the party is still going on when I get there.

 

How do you observe Memorial Day?

What do you typically do on Memorial Day weekend?

  • Sleep
  • Go to the lake
  • Party
  • Visit the cemeteries
  • Other
See results without voting

Comments 34 comments

Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

Great hub and tribute to those so deserving.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Thank you, Putz. I hope your Memorial Day weekend is a good one.

Mike


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Very touching Hub and Great Tribute. It must have been a lot to take in on Sunday.

I wish for a supernatural peace to envelope you and your family at this time, to comfort your hearts.

Regards, Elena.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Elena, thank you for the kind wishes. I appreciate them very much. I will visit another grave or two today, and then relax a bit.

Have a great day.

Mike


samboiam profile image

samboiam 6 years ago from Texas

What a touching hub. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Samboiam, thanks for your kind comments. I appreciate them very much. I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Mike


Megavitamin profile image

Megavitamin 6 years ago

Very moving hub! It's a beautiful tribute to those who have gone before you.


John B Badd profile image

John B Badd 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Wonderful hub. Let us never forget who gave us our liberties.


nadp profile image

nadp 6 years ago from WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

Odd as this sounds, I don't think I know anyone who visits loved ones graves on Memorial Day. What a wonderful tribute.


Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 6 years ago from Michigan

Great look at Memorial day. While it is generally a sad day, it is good to remember the good times we had with our loved ones that have past on, along with remembering the lost veterans that defended our country.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Megavitamin, thanks for reading, I greatly appreciate it. I hope you had a nice Memorial Day weekend.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

John, thanks for your comments. It is so appropriate to remember those who helped make our country what it is. Where would we be without their efforts?

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

nadp, thanks for stopping by. We each have our own ways to remember friends and loved ones, and no one way is better than another. Decorating graves on Memorial Day is simply a traditional way. All that matters is to keep those who have passed away in our hearts. Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Truth, thanks for stopping by and I hope you're doing well. It is so important to honor those who sacrificed themselves for our freedoms. We have much to thank them for. Like you, I like to remember the good times spent with family and friends that are no longer with us. It is a sad day, but it can also be inspiring in an odd sort of way.

Hope you've been doing well, my friend. Take care.

Mike


coffeesnob 6 years ago

***sigh***

Mike,

this was beautiful. This must surely have provided you a sense of incredible belonging. I know that seems weird to say, but that is what I felt as I read. Knowing those who have gone before you and simply taking time to contemplate their lives has to be quite a full and rewardingf experience. Thanks for sharing this day with us. I pray the God of peace will fill you and bless you with outstanding joy..

CS


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You are correct: visiting all of these tombstones made me feel part of something greater than myself--which, of course, we all are. A day like Sunday makes everyone that has passed away feel as if they are still close by. I know in some ways it is a mixed blessing for my father to realize how many people he has outlived, but I suspect he felt a connection by visiting the cemeteries, as well.

Thanks again for your comments, you are always so gracious and I always enjoy reading your words. Take care.

Mike


H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 6 years ago from Lone Star State

What a hub you wrote here. It is nice to know that some still do what Memorial Day is truly intended for, which is remember lives lost-rather that go to the lake to fish or sit around getting drunk (which so many do). I hope your memories bring you and your family comfort-Thanks for sharing your day with us...


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Lovely, moving hub. It's good to remember, and to be remembered.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

HC, thanks for reading. Memorial Day is a different kind of holiday for me. It is far more than heading to the lake or making sure the fridge is stocked with beer. Call me strange, I guess, but visiting the cemeteries has great meaning for me. Thanks again for reading, and for appreciating the significance of this special weekend.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Paradise, thanks for reading. I hope you're doing okay these days. I appreciate greatly your stopping by and joining me in remembering. Take care.

Mike


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Awesome tribute to the fallen, Mike!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Nice and awesome tribute to those who are deserving, Thanks for the share of what you did last Memorial day, Your activities and round on different cemeteries on that day was tiring but you were happy, Thanks, Maita


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Thank you for reading, Habee. Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Maita, thanks for stopping by. Yup, it was a very tiring day going to all those cemeteries (it was very warm outside, also...), but I was glad I did. It was very much worth it. Thanks again for leaving a comment, I appreciate it.

Mike


Just A Voice 6 years ago

You are a good man Mike. I am glad you took us on your Memorial day with you, it warmed my heart.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Voice, thank you for your kind words. You are most gracious. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Mike


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

What a wonderful thing to be able to do, especially with being able to transport your parents there with you to honor those who have left this life. Sadly all of our relatives are buried or interred in distant places...many in other states, so we cannot do the same as you. You are fortunate. Very nice hub to read! Thanks for sharing.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Peggy, thanks for reading. It was indeed a wonderful experience to be able to visit the resting places of so many loved ones in a relatively short period of time. I am so very lucky in that regard. I would, of course, honor them in thoughts and memories if I were too far away to visit, but I do appreciate the opportunity to actually see the grave markers and decorate them.

Thanks again for reading, I am always appreciative of your kind comments.

Mike


pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

How wonderful that you used the Memorial Day for what it was truly meant for and not just a day off.

I should have visited my brother's grave and did not (I've been tangling with some personal issues of late). I let the holiday go and come without a thought of anyone but myself.

Thank you for the reminder of the true purpose of the holiday.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

pmccray, how are you doing? I was wondering about you--it had been some times since we had seen you on HP lately. I hope things are going okay for you these days, and I appreciate your stopping by. For me, Memorial Day has always meant remembering those who are no longer with us, and it will always be a special day.

Thanks again for stopping by, and I hope everything is good for you these days.

Mike


K J Page profile image

K J Page 6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

As a child I visited the cemetery with my father on Memorial day - his father grave and his mother's father's grave. The last time there I visited a my brother's - also a very painful stop. Ours are now too far scattered. Gram was buried in another town and now Mom and Dad lie together in Washington. But I want to do a trip this summer to visit all. Thanks for the memories.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

KJ, thanks for stopping by. I remember visiting graves with my parents on Memorial Day as a child, also. When I was very young, it seemed an odd experience, but I somehow knew how much it meant to my parents and (back then) my grandparents.

As you mention, it's more difficult now to visit graves than it was a generation or two ago. People are more mobile and families more spread out. My grandparent were farmers and so were several uncles. They were bound to the land and many small cemeteries in the area are filled with grave markers with "Lickteig" on them. It is a new era now.

Well, thanks again for stopping by. I appreciate your comments very much.

Mike


hamburghotels 6 years ago

Oh that is really sad..........i will pray for the peace of their soul

always have positive faith ...........


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

hamburghotels, thanks for reading. It was a good day to visit the grave sites of so many relatives. Thanks for helping me to honor them.

Mike

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