I never knew my Dad's parents, my paternal Grampa and Nana. But I have the memories that I want my own daughter to have, of visiting this special place - planting and cleaning and telling stories. I have fond and clear memories of going with my Dad to pick out flowers (usually red geraniums), driving to the cemetary (and always parking in the same place by the water spicket), filling buckets, washing the stone, planting fresh flowers. My Dad wasn't necessarily one to tell stories of his youth, but at the cemetary they came out. Stories of birthdays, of youthful hijinx, of things he remembered his parents saying or doing. I never knew my Dad's parents, but because of these rituals, of these times spent at the cemetary, I felt in some small way that I DID know them. If nothing else, I knew for sure that my Dad knew them. That they were real, and in his memory always. That he loved them. I could tell by the way he took care of the stone that he cared for them. That there was respect and love. There were not many times when I felt like I could see through my Dad like this.
Raina will never know my Dad. This makes me sad, and wistful, and (somehow) nostalgic for baseball card chewing gum. All I can do is show her the same things my Dad showed me and my sister, by bringing her here and repeating what was such an imporant part of my childhood, even if I didn't know it at the time. We will pick out flowers together (though probably not geraniums), usually at the same store I always went to with my Dad. We will drive to the cemetary and park in the same spot. We will fill, wash, plant, talk. This is where she will get to know the man that I called Daddy. This is where I will tell her stories, and this is where we will make memories.
Our flowers, and and oldie of me modeling my Dad's fire helmet.