Visiting Mom's Grave

My family never talked much about deceased relatives around the holidays.

That changed in 1980 when my mother died.

Christmas 1980 was not a particularly happy occasion for us. I flew back home from Oregon where I attending graduate school. My father, my sisters, and I tried to cook a turkey for Christmas, a task our mother had always handled. Our efforts were somewhat less than successful. We exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve somewhat joylessly. We all felt empty.

We visited Mom’s grave and I saw her headstone for the first time. My sister had selected an epitaph that was simple and sweet:

Sorrow is not forever. Love is.

Mom had been buried in a new section of Our Lady of Angels Cemetery and the area bore the signs of the recently deceased. Many of the graves still bore no headstone. The earth above the many of the graves was still rough, not having had enough time to settle into a level field of grass. The tracks of the bereaved criss-crossed in the light dusting of snow, revealing that nearly every grave in the section had been visited in the few days previous.

For years afterward, it was hard for me to return to our family home without seeing persistent signs of Mom’s presence in the house and in the garden.

And, now, more than 27 years after Mom’s death, our family is selling the house. The sale should close around Christmas.

Written for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Day 20.

Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko 

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4 Responses to Visiting Mom's Grave

  1. Janet Iles says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories. What a beautiful epitaph.

  2. I, too, lost my mother at Christmastime — 19 December 1993. It was devastating holiday season for my older brother and me, and my sister-in-law was in hysterics on Christmas Eve. Although 14 years have passed, it doesn’t get much easier at the holidays. We lost my Grandmother Weatherly on 4 December 1962, my Grandmother Morgan on 17 December 1966, and 18 December this year would have been my father’s 98th birthday.

    Memories are bittersweet little bubbles that can be evoked by a sound, an odor, a song, or a fragment of paper. They come at the most unexpected times, but I guess we do learn to deal with them.

    I try to remember the good times with all my relatives, although there were sometimes the proverbial bumps in the road. I try to make new memories at the holidays with family members and with friends who also have become my chosen family.

    Thanks for sharing your heart-felt memories and the beautiful epitaph. Remember the best and let that carry you forward.

  3. Pingback: Christmas Memories « Amy’s Genealogy, etc. Blog

  4. Lee says:

    The epitaph is lovely. I am still considering what, if anything, to put on Mother’s. Her stone will be a small one, so I may have room only for the necessities, especially since her pet’s ashes are buried with her.

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