Holidays and sitting them out….

I remember when I was a little girl and how I loved looking forward to a holiday. My younger brother and I celebrated them together in every wish, dream, and moment. It was our time then. We would excite ourselves with the idea of Easter morning chocolate bunnies and spring toys. Christmastime we spent hours thumbing through store catalogs marking the pages of everything we wanted by bending the page or using a permanent black magic marker to circle the desires that year. We would Trick or Treat on Halloween and come home to sort and group our candy in neat little piles before counting them and gorging ourselves. I would always run out of chocolate candy first as I had an enormous sweet tooth and my brother would pretend not to notice that I ate his when mine was gone.

These holidays were my childhood and were some of my best holiday moments. No one realizes that until those moments are long gone. As an adult I was given the gift of having children to celebrate these moments with and I loved every second of every holiday. Even as I celebrated these moments I knew that they would stop some day and my job would warp into the final stage of observer. My participation would be more “watching” than “doing”.

At first the role seemed strange to me but I have learned by watching my children being the “doers” in holiday celebrations just how lucky I really am. I love reliving in my mind how my younger brother and I celebrated together and the only sad part is that he is not here to share our memories together. I watch my children build their own lives and I know how lucky I am to have raised them and had those moments. I still love holidays and the family time that they bring but I have learned that it’s ok to sit them out and let them be celebrated by the here and now. I enjoy watching others live what I have learned. I hope that my children will see someday how wonderful their lives have been as I do now.

Choices in Death

I know it may seem odd since my business is cemetery decorations but I like the idea of green burial. It’s more than just the ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in a word-simple. I think it’s important to have one final decision in life and that is how your death or life will be celebrated. Now this is not a simple choice if you have a child that has proceeded you in death, a husband, a sibling, a partner. I had to make choices for my family members without knowing exactly what they wanted. I tried to make decisions that were appropriate, respectful, and loving but those were choices I made for them, and it was a long time before I forgave myself for something I had no control over. My parents, and siblings have been gone for over 25 years and the pain doesn’t flood me as it once did. The deaths just came suddenly but not surprisingly. I lost my mother, younger brother, and father all within 9 months. I had already buried my stepfather and my oldest brother, and my middle brother would follow in just a few years. I was afraid, afraid to talk to them about death even though most of them were inevitable, but it was so much simpler to just put it away in the back of my mind. What I wasn’t prepared for is I would be the only decision maker, the only one left to make those choices.

My brothers birthday, November 22, 1962

I started making my crosses over 20 years ago. I lost most of my childhood family and I needed to process my grief. These crosses came to me one night while I was lying in bed. It wasn’t until ten years later that my daughters would convince me that others would also like my crosses. And the rest as they say is history, no it’s my life.

My youngest brother was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1962. My mother would make him a pumpkin pie every year for his birthday. She said it was his favorite but I think it was her way of paying him back for the Thanksgiving she missed in 1962. My brother would celebrate his first birthday with pumpkin pie of course but it was not a happy celebration as that was the day that President Kennedy was shot and died of his injuries.

I had to call the caretaker and ask that his stone and that of my other brother be lifted. Twenty years of Kansas weather can bury a headstone.

My brother would die on New Years Eve of 1999, yet another holiday that would not be celebrated for years following his death. I always like to make something special for his grave celebrating his life, his birthday. His favorite color was orange and so it is very easy to decorate his grave for Fall. This year I decided to break from this tradition and decorate his grave with a bright green and yellow wreath I made. The wreath is thick enough and just heavy enough to be held by his vase alone. Very cheerful, he was a very cheerful kid.

Kansas Country Cemetery #3

Like all of the cemeteries I will be posting, Roll cemetery , once way outside the city limits, is well within the city limits of Haysville, KS. Now Haysville KS is butt up against Wichita KS. You don’t realize you have left one and entered the other. I have blogged before my curiosity comes from my business , content for this blog, and the YouTube channel Sidestep Adventures. Kansas doesn’t have as long of a history as the state of Georgia which is where Sidestep Adventures takes place, but the history can be found in its small country cemeteries. This is Roll Cemetery and the Roll family is buried within. Family cemeteries were very common in the 1800s to early 1900s and Roll Cemetery displays that history well.

Roll Family Cemetery in Haysville KS.

Like the others I have posted Roll Cemetery has a beautiful handcrafted entrance and is well cared for. The fence came years later to keep others out and to mark the area which is designated as cemetery.

The fence is there although the cemetery will never fill the land.

Roll cemetery is on about an acre of land but runs along the side the dirt road and it’s length is greater than it’s width.

This is my favorite view of Roll Cemetery. The hand crafted iron gateway is simple but stark
against the Kansas Prairie.

#2 Kansas cemeteries you may never see

In my last post I wrote about my inspiration for posting pictures and comments about Kansas cemeteries. Not the huge mid century cemeteries and their big Masoleums or the newer cemeteries with flat markers, big statues and biblical names for each section. My inspiration is a YouTube channel called Sidestep Adventures. On this YouTube channel they take you through Georgia and Alabama cemeteries that many don’t realize exist and are so old they aren’t even mapped.

I’m starting in my own county of Sedgwick in the state of Kansas. Prairie cemeteries mark the harsh realities of what life was like in the early to late 1800s. The cemeteries are small and some of them are no longer hidden due to urban sprawl. Marked in stone is the life the prairie provided for the first that settled Kansas.

These pictures are of Eldridge Cemetery near Colwich KS. This is a farming community outside of Wichita KS. Colwich was once miles outside of the city but today is only 7 miles away from Wichita. There is no one named Eldridge buried here. The first grave that I could find belonged to a child named F. Arthur , age 1 year- 9 mos. Little Arthur is laid to rest with his father who shares the same stone maker. Most of the graves are from the late 1800s to the very early 1900s with very few exceptions. The majority of the graves are of infants, children, and young adults, with their parents following in death. There is one small mausoleum building with no identification of its owner. The cemetery is well groomed and some flowers were placed at one grave. The legacy of this Kansas cemetery seems to be the hard life of early farming in Kansas.

The sidewalk that welcomes you into the cemetery
The cemetery is spread over about an acre of land
The notice tells you what you need to know
All of the stones are large and elaborate with children having the largest stones. The electric pole in the back of this picture is the only thing that gives a hint to a new century.

Kansas Cemeteries you may never see. #1

I follow a YouTube Chanel called Sidestep Adventures. The host takes you through the past of Alabama and let me tell you it has a lot of past to view. I’m a bit of a history buff and I find his episodes on old cemeteries fascinating. Of course Kansas doesn’t have as many historical cemeteries, slave cemeteries, plantation cemeteries as Georgia and Alabama but we do have a few hidden gems. The difference being that our Kansas cemeteries are not hidden beneath bushes, wisteria, and huge oak trees. Kansas cemeteries are of the plains. The plains of Kansas were very harsh to the settlers of the 1800s, lots of sun, wind, and dust, and not much more. I have no doubt that many of the small farm cemeteries are long gone, plowed over and forgotten. The ones that do remain are quaint and quietly taken care of. The host of SidestepAdventures would tell you the cemeteries that remain almost own themselves. In other words, if a cemetery has been photographed and reported to the county that land can’t be sold or built on, so they just work around them. I will have to check out Kansas law on cemeteries before my next post.

Here is my first attempt at showing small Kansas cemeteries on the prairie.

#1 RUBY Cemetery. Although this cemetery is close to Clearwater KS ( population 2500) and Wichita KS (population 400,000.) You can see by my pictures it is a prairie cemetery of years ago.

Missing Dad

Holidays are rough for many people for many reasons. When it comes to specific family “holidays” like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or even the up and rising Grandparents Day the celebration can be awkward or painful for many.

When I was young, divorced parents were few and far between among my classmates ( it was the 1970’s). I dreaded Father’s Day conversation brought up within my circle of friends and the only saving grace was I never had to endure Father’s Day art projects, cards, or dinners as the holiday falls in the summer.

When I married and started a family the celebration of Father’s Day shifted to my husband and I was more than happy to celebrate his fatherhood. My husband came from a fatherless family and it was a relief to him to have a reason to celebrate.
As I grew older others my age grieved for the loss of their Fathers as they passed. I did all my grieving as a child so when my father passed my emotions were void and the funeral planning was somewhat methodical.

I admire the younger generations and their definition of family. Families, fathers included, are not defined by a person’s gender, blood DNA, or even location. Instead families are as they should be ; groups of humans who love and care for each other and choose to share their lives with one another. It’s not that I dislike this holiday but rather I dream of a future were my grandchildren and great -grandchildren live and where families are chosen out of love and not a definition created by others.

Memorial Day 2021

March, April, and May are busy months for me as are the holidays. My customers are loyal and kind. All of my family are buried in small country cemeteries or Catholic cemeteries. I realize that some of the larger cooperate cemeteries have strict rules on what you can or can’t place on graves. There are cemeteries that have timelines stating when how long grave decorations can remain on a grave. Here are some pictures of my husbands family graves this Memorial holiday.

Visual thoughts?

I’ve seen this picture online at a couple of different sites but never with a title or location. I find the picture haunting and beautiful. When first seeing it on Pinterest the first thought I had was that looks like a stairway to heaven. Yes , I am a Led Zepplin fan.

What thoughts do you have when you see this picture?

Do you know the title or location?

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