It’s Memorial Day--one of those strange holidays that has all but lost its original meaning. Seems nowadays Memorial Day is the official weekend of the Indianapolis 500. Or the perfect excuse for a 12-hour sale at Macys. It’s even the official kick-off weekend of the Click-It or Ticket campaign, encouraging all of us to wear our seat-belts—while gosh-darn helpful, it all just smacks me as tragically mundane.
Between the BBQs and the waterskiing, this is a day or remembrance. But wait? Isn’t that what Veteran’s Day is all about? Um, well, sorta. Memorial Day is about remembering those who’ve passed away (that’s “died” to you and me), while Veteran’s Day is about remembering living veterans. I know; they show Saving Private Ryan during both holidays—confusing, isn’t it?
So who are you remembering this Memorial Day?
For me it’s my mom. No, she wasn’t a veteran, but she served five kids the best she could and earned her stripes the hard way. She died three years ago. I was there—on the cancer-ward of Harrison Memorial Hospital.
I’ll never forget that time, because I journaled it, several times a day, sitting with my mom while she slept. Or in the hall, watching the other patients come and go—quite literally. I watched them walk the halls in new pajamas, pushing IV stands. I watched their families bring in homemade food, even a rice-cooker. Then I watched the paramedics take them home, on gurneys, to hospice care. And I watched orderlies cart out wastebaskets of deflated helium balloons and crumpled get-well cards.
To keep from going mad with despair I’d wander down to the newborn nursery. It didn’t ease my pain, or make the nights with my delirious parent any easier, but it sort of made sense of the whole mess. It was a tragic, beautiful time, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
So before I head off to the potluck I’ve been invited to, I thought I’d ask again—who are you remembering?