If you aren’t familiar with Elf on a Shelf you might think this picture is a little odd. The idea is that you use the elf doll and tell your children that the elf is watching good boys and girls for Santa. Now the elf moves at night to a different location to further convince your kids he is real. Sometimes this little elf will even play tricks at night while children are asleep. An example would be you find him on the kitchen table with your cereal ready, or maybe he picked out your clothes while you slept. You get the idea.
Now this sounds like great fun BUT most parents start this little game around Thanksgiving and it’s played up and until Christmas. This can be troublesome in many ways. Trying to come up with different ideas as to where to put the elf while the kids are asleep and what trick or new discovery the elf might create. That’s a lot of work! Or heaven forbid the parent is to tired to do the elf relocation one night, then you have to come up with why the elf did not move. The worst or maybe best idea is the elf is partially eaten by the dog, hence the picture.
Six years ago my daughter gave me a gift that transformed my life. I realize that is a bold statement but I genuinely feel that way. The gift was an iPad. Now understand that I learned windows on a desktop with lots of tears and bad words. I could email, look at the internet, and do some graphics but nothing like my iPad. It was easy to use, I never felt like the iPad would blow up if I hit the wrong key, and no tears were involved. No I understand you might think that my daughter helped me learn but no she told me I was on my own after setting up my email and cloud account and showing me where I could find apps to download. I taught myself and opened up an online store. I worked social media and with three different printers over 4 years I could master anything. I do almost EVERYTHING online. The reason I tell you this rather long winded story is this: I’m not young. I cringe when I have someone tell me that they can’t learn computer, they can’t keep up, or they don’t want to. I cringe because I am the same age as the people telling me this and all I hear is fear. I help when they ask a question in regards to “online questions” and I even go so far as to do a lot of things for them online which I don’t really mind at all. I do worry how isolated seniors will feel as technology flies at the speed of sound these days. Each year a senior doesn’t learn the more they will not understand what the generation below them is talking about, the more they won’t understand the world and how to function within it, and the more they will be afraid.
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.
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.
Every year we drive up to Minnesota to see our youngest daughter and her partner. It’s such a long drive from Kansas (12 hours) that unless we have planed ahead we simply just drive, and that’s a lot of highway.
When we do pull off the highway, and as long as it doesn’t take us too far off the path, I try to locate local cemeteries. The small city of Cameron, Missouri has a population of around 10,000. Give or take a few thousand. This small size city has the daunting task of taking care of 5 cemeteries. All five are large cemeteries and all five belong to the city of Cameron. The cemeteries are: McDaniel 600+, Packard 2000+, Graceland Memorial 1000+, Graceland 2000+, Evergreen 1500+, the numbers represent approximately how many are buried at each cemetery. Cameron had a historical board as well as a cemetery board and with that many cemeteries to maintain its easy to understand why they have the boards. I’m in awe of how such a small city manages to maintain so much cemetery acreage.
I think one of the best things about being born and living your entire life in the same city is nothing really changes, not really. Yes new streets are paved and old ones torn out, buildings go up and are torn down, people move into the city and move out, but your memories in the city never change. I can drive down any street in my city and it will bring back a memory, some sad, some not. Change is hard for all of us to some degree or another. Most of us when we are young we see change but it doesn’t seem to bother us a lot. Now as we age we have a tendency to resent change. I’m sure you have heard others say, “ things were better in our time” or “things aren’t as good as they used to be” These statements are true of course, or maybe you just roll your eyes when you hear someone older than you express that sentiment. The loss of someone you love is heartbreaking and of course this brings change. Change you are never ready for , but still it comes- relentlessly. I have found this to be true , this time right now, this very moment is everyone’s moment. As long as you are alive this is your time.
I must start by telling you that I am so grateful for my following of customers. Just the thought of someone understanding what I do and why while meeting their needs is the best feeling in the world.
One of my customers wrote me a message some time ago and I have not forgotten his words since.
You might like to hear that I took the orange cross to the plot of ground that was once the house where my mother was born, in East Baltimore, 101 years ago, on her birthday this past August. It was a fine and fitting memorial to her and my aunts and grand parents, in Orioles territory. Doubtless many noticed and admired it on that green space walk way yet no one bothered it during the entire week that I was there.
I’m one of those people that notice my surroundings possibly more than others but I have always enjoyed the strange and unique world we live in.. Have you ever seen something outside and wondered why it was there? Maybe it was just one shoe in the middle of the road, or a ribbon tied around a pole, a hat in a tree, or a bunch of balloons floating by?
We may not always know the reason something is were it is but by just taking note we have become one piece of someone’s small patch in time, part of a small remembrance.
I decided to become part of his story and created this cross for him as a gift of gratitude.