My Mom’s large extended family was from the south, transplanted to the Northwest in a search for home and work in the Great Depression. My Great Grandfather followed his sister and her family. Not sure who she followed, or if they were the leaders. But after leaving some behind in Idaho, many settled in Portland, the west hills. At some point, perhaps working as loggers, many found their way to Hood River, settling in the Valley in the 30’s, finding work in logging that provided them an opportunity to buy land and settle.
So, when I was a child, the memories of those who came before were important. And my Grandmother, particular, had a green thumb. And, then, my father and many of the extended family served in the Wars.
Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, was important to them. My mother had a special affinity for wild rhodies, Grandma had multiple lilac trees, a driveway with peonies on either side and a garden full of iris and other perennials. So, depending on how the spring had gone and where the snow levels were, Our family would take a drive up Lost Lake road and get some Rhodies for the bouquets. A few coffee cans and and a we were off to search for the graves of those who came before. An interesting tradition, sometimes looking for those who were less close, random conversation. Maybe a few tears if my Grandmother was with us as she was prone to more displays of emotion than my mother.
I woke this morning thinking of them, remembering my Dad always carrying the Flag in the parade through the Heights to the cemetery, our family graves already decorated. This year, I had even forgotten it was Memorial Day, lots in life that occupy my mind now. Some of it is who those ancestors were, how they came to be here. And, as a friend said some time ago, we are the product of all of those moments, hopefully loving and kind moments always, that happened for so many people over so many centuries. So my thoughts go to all of them. And to my passion for perennial flowers passed down from all of those women who loved flowers along the way.