Monday, May 27, 2019

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mother would be 107 today. It's hard to imagine, and also to believe she's been gone since 2000. Our family never made much of a fuss about birthdays when I was growing up, and I can recall only a few times I was with her to celebrate during adulthood. I saw her for 2 days in late May of 1993 when I came out from Chicago after an MLA conference, but then she left for the DC area to see a granddaughter graduate, so I can't remember if we did anything to celebrate. Perhaps she celebrated it jointly with Julie. Then in the late 90s my sister and I both came in May and spent time with her.

And today is also the 3-day week-end date for Memorial Day, the last Monday in May instead of May 30 which was the date from 1868 to 1971--certainly enough years for me to adjust. It was originally a day to honor the Civil War dead--and there is still some controversy about that--however, now the tradition is to decorate the graves of family and friends, but also attend parades to honor war dead. In a letter to her cousin in Iowa, Marianne [posted at my blog], "Mom fretted a little on Memorial Day 1975 that she and her sister were the only ones left to place flowers at the grave sites of parents and brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, something their mother had always done." I hope my brother is able to get to Ashton to continue the family tradition of our parents and grandparents, and that my sister will place some flowers on the graves in Plainview in Mt. Morris.

Mom actually had a great uncle Jacob, the brother of her grandfather David, who died in the service during the Civil War, but if my grandmother, her mother knew that, she never told my mom. His birth and death dates are not in the family Bible. He was born in 1848 and died in May 1865, just weeks before the end of the war. He's buried in the National Cemetery in Nashville [Section J, grave 14379]. Mom and her sister found out about this 120 years later through a cousin in Iowa who still owned a letter he'd written from a prison camp. He was only 16 years old when he enlisted.

We are usually at our lake home over Memorial Day Week-end and here's a collection of the blogs I've written about it.

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