National Month of Hope

I couldn’t help but to write a blog post about April being the National Month of Hope. Hope is a positive, very personal emotion. We humans are all the same species. Other species react to us as humans, not as specific groups. We as a species like to separate ourselves into groups by religion, politics, race, countries, and the list goes on and on. Emotions are described by humans and mostly considered human behaviors. Anger, joy, frustration, sadness, all emotions that are experienced by our species. But the above list of separations makes those emotions specific. One emotion stands out as independent of group emotions, and that is hope. Every human has had, at one time or another, a desire of hope. To hope that something might occur, or not, is an independent thought. I’m not sure we need an entire month dedicated to this emotion, but maybe it’s a reminder that we are all of one species and not as different as we might assume.

I HOPE

National Handmade Day

This is my day! I have been creating one of a kind crosses since 2014. I’ve sold over 2500 on my site as well as Etsy, Bonanza, and eBay. I started making cemetery crosses in 2000 after losing my father, mother, and brother in nine months time. I made them for every lost loved one that followed , and there would be more. It was a healing way for me to express my loss and decorate for every holiday lost with my brothers, step father, and parents. I enjoyed making them each Memorial Day. It was in August of 2014 that my daughters suggested that I sell them to others. I wasn’t sure how to start , but with a birthday gift of an iPad from my daughter , I thought maybe , just maybe I could find someone interested in the crosses that I so enjoyed making. I learned so much in those first few years and am still learning everyday. There have been many tears, frustrated moments, and many late nights but making these handmade crosses has been life changing. You can find a link to my shop on this blog as well as:

Etsy.com/FloralMemorials my eBay.com/FloralMemorials & Bonanza.com/FloralMemorials. I’m also on Pinterest or you can just google me FloralMemorials.

Missy

“It’s a generational thing”

This past weekend I spent the day with my oldest daughter and a good friend of hers. In between shopping and while at lunch several topics were discussed. Jasmine ( the friend ) talked about how the industry she worked in was full of ” older men” who had a fear of technology and often that fear came out in very cranky phone conversations. It was interesting that she could recognize the reason for the cranky phone conversations. She went on to explain that my daughter and herself were part of an “in between generation”. She said that they weren’t Millennials, and they weren’t Baby Boomers but that they fell into a large group of people in which technology was growing at just as fast as they were as people. This group had cell phones in college- not grade school. They had just really gotten use to downloading music- not buying cd’s. 

Later in the day I stopped to think about the differences from my generation and the one before mine. The world changed quickly for my generation. I think my childhood and teen years were simple but I wasn’t really paying attention to the subtle changes until I became a parent. Electronics were everywhere and we fought to keep our children’s youth as simple as ours even with game systems, DVD players, and MP3 players. The “nuclear” family was changing from what we understood it to be just like the generation before me struggled with the idea of “single parent households”.

What I realized between the conversations is that EVERY generation has its struggles and learning curves to deal with. Some people view the change in society as a curse or not worth learning or adapt to. Some amaze me with their willingness to learn. I have a neighbor that is 82 years old and very efficient on her iPhone and iPad.

My daughter’s friend said she had heard I was selling online and wanted to see what I was selling. I showed her my online shops, my Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest , and of course this blog. When I was finished she ask me why people buy my crosses and I explained some of the reasons and how much I enjoyed sharing what I do with others. She looked at me confused and said, “I don’t get it , is this a generational thing”? I couldn’t help but to smile.

Forgive your Parents Day

March 18th is National Forgive your Parents Day. I always wonder who creates these days , but I have to tell you that this is a good one. I didn’t have great parents and my childhood was marked with lots of trauma. I was able to forgive them both before they died, not in words so much but in a mutual understanding that I tolerated them and showed them respect late in their lives. Was it easy? No it wasn’t. I was raised to show respect to anyone that was older than me. My mother and especially my grandmother instilled that habit into daily life. Am I a better person for it? Of course. Parents aren’t perfect, they were never meant to be, and never will be. The good ones, in my opinion, love their children and try their best to advocate for them throughout their lives. Good parents listen, listen, and listen. Mine weren’t perfect or even close to what I wanted , but to carry them around with me for the rest of my life would have only burdened me. So let go, forgive if you can. Be a better parent than your parents are/were. If we are to ever evolve as humans tell your children that you hope they are going to be better parents than you are.🙏

National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day

I know that my title is not an attention grabber and that’s ok. I want to personally recognize this group of people that have made my life easier. This particular group, until you need them and chances are you will need them one day, are there for people at their saddest and most vulnerable moment. The first encounter I had with a funeral director was when I was 19. My oldest brother died in an accident and the family was gathered at the funeral home trying to make arrangements. My parents couldn’t put aside their hurt and anger long enough to bury my brother so they turned and said “ask Missy what she wants”. I was stunned, I wasn’t a parent. I wasn’t even an adult , really. This poor funeral director pulled me aside and walked me through the decisions with such kindness and understanding I couldn’t have made it through that day , or the funeral to come. I don’t remember his face at all just his ability to understand my humiliation, my pain, and my lack of knowledge. He saved that day from being one that could have left me hardened and pissed off.

I have had too many encounters with other funeral homes and the employees that have helped me and I have had people with the same kindness and concern at each one. We may not like talking about what a service these individuals provide , or maybe we tell ourselves that we wouldn’t want to have one as a friend, but I tell you it would make your life better if you did. In recognition of those who provide this service, I say THANK YOU!

Missy

Telling a life story in cemetery symbolism

      I found these cemetery symbolism charts on Pinterest and thought I would see if I could find a few of them when decorating my family graves on Memorial Day. 


The symbolism explains why certain markers have, what others might think odd, a reason for a different look than the flat grave markers common today. 


 I began to see these markers as a personal history lesson about the lives of the people laid to rest beneath.

A Merry Cemetery!

A member of the family had posted to Facebook a power point about Romania. History and Geography are my favorites so I watched the 60 sec. slide. As I watched I learned some interesting facts about the people, the castles, the terrain and so on. Then a slide appeared about the only Merry Cemetery in the world! 

What? A Merry cemetery? What is that all about?

Well to the Google search I go….

The Merry Cemetery is a very colorful and vibrant cemetery located behind the Church of Assumption in the small village of Sapanta in Romania. It began in 1935 with one man by the name of Stan Loan Patras. Mr. Patras would carve these beautiful oak crosses and then  paint onto the cross something about the life of that person.


Mr. Patras passed away in 1977 ( yes he has a headstone about his life too ) and the job was passed down to another local craftsman named Dumitri Pop. Dumitri has created hundreds of headstones over the 30 years he has held the job and hopes to pass the “torch” to another craftsman to keep the tradition. The wood paintings on each cross may tell the story of their occupation, their personal life , or how they died. Each headstone also has an epipaph or poem about that person below the picture. The families come to Dumitri and ask him to create a cross for their loved one. The families don’t get to choose what goes on the tombstone, that is left up to Dumitri….. NO exceptions. There are 2 things you can be sure of when visiting or having a loved one buried there:

  • Your loved one will be visited daily by many, many people from all over the world.
  • The pictures displayed on the headstones make it possible for you to understand no matter what language you speak.          

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.