My brother, sister and I were fortunate to have been able to grow up surrounded by the older generations of our kinfolk. Great aunts and uncles, my grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins galore were an immediate part of our daily lives. We didn't get dressed up on Sunday to go visit the grandparents, and we weren't forced to kiss the great aunts and uncles once a year at awkward family reunions. No, they participated in births, deaths, and everything in between. Birthday parties, cookouts in summer, haying, holidays and road trips. They were an active, loved part of our family gatherings.
Time has a way of marching on however, and now I have seen an entire generation of our family pass away. We would mark the passing with a comment, such as "well, that leaves just 5 in that generation now", then 4, then 2, and then, we lost the last great aunt.
Suddenly, and without even trying, I was moved up a notch. Without much fanfare, I became part of the "middle generation", and for me, being part of the middle generation bears a responsibility. I feel it is up to me to record some of our family stories for future generations. I want them to know something about the person on whose grave they are planting a red geranium.
My stories are simple memories of those older, kind hearted folks that worked hard, lived well and made Bridgton their home. Salt of the earth people-farmers, machinists, laborers, homemakers. Regular hard working men and women that struggled through the depression and two world wars to make a good life for their children and their children's children.
Stories about a great uncle that went away to war and came back a changed man, about a great grandmother who, when she traveled from home to home visiting her many adult
children, would always take her pot chair along with her. Stories about the childless great aunt that sewed clothes and knitted mittens and scarves for her sister's youngsters, and then of course, stories about my grandparents and uncle, of which I have many.
Now, with the passing of each member of my family, my Aunt Dorothea and Uncle Billy included, I am moved that much closer to being the "oldest generation". It is the unavoidable, yet natural progression of life.
So, as I join my family on our annual pilgrimage to 5 cemeteries, the back of our van loaded with red Geraniums, I stop beside each stone and remember. I remember the love and joy that each person contributed to the fabric of our family, and I hope that someday a future generation will do the same at my stone.
|The Road to Homeland Cemetery|