Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day

My family visited the cemetery this afternoon in observance of Memorial Day, and to visit the graves of my great grandmother Alice F. Meier and my great grandfather Donald E. Olsen. They were divorced in life, but buried only a few yards away from each other. I'm not sure if it was intentional to place them so close to one another in death when they were so far apart in life.

I have very few memories of my great grandmother Alice. She suffered a stroke when I was only four or five years old, leaving her with a speech impairment and partially paralyzed on one side. My great uncle Skip cared for her at home. When we visited her at home, she occassionally wept for no apparent reason and my mother or father would say, "Great grandma's feeling sad. Why don't you give her a kiss and make her feel better." When I kissed her on the cheek, she stopped crying and sometimes smiled at me.

Tears fill my eyes as I remember those simple moments; a sign of the love our elders have for their children and grandchildren. Thirty years later, I remember the love my great grandma Alice had for me, even though she could not say the words, and I feel such tremendous gratitude.

The memory of love lives forever.

Unlike my great grandmother, I have no memories of my great grandfather Donald Olsen. I hear stories of his alcoholism, violence, and drunken rage against his own family. To this day, my grandma (his daughter) has nothing kind to say about him. I didn't live through his cruelty, but I can't help but think forgiveness is the key to redemption. I don't blame my grandmother's bitterness against him, but every year I place a flower on her father's grave.

Maybe some day our father's will be reconciled to their children in heaven, and grace will fill our eternity with joy.

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