Yesterday was my maiden voyage into the world with Wreaths Across America. The past few years, my intentions were good but my follow-through was lacking. So, after sending a check for some wreaths, the next logical step was to participate in the actual placement of a wreath, or a few. Not a real stretch, since one of the newest graves is for a veteran very near and dear to me.
Got to the cemetery later than I had planned, so didn’t get to park where I wanted. Oh, well. Parked elsewhere and walked instead. Unfortunately, that time allowed me to get miffed at the JrROTC kids standing closest to the entrance who were obviously having a really good time being there. A smile is OK, but their laughing kinda ticked me off.
Since I was already having a less than wonderful day, I skipped the ceremony they were having. (Yes, I did arrive in time to attend. Didn’t want to.) Took up my post graveside instead. Others were doing the same. When their conversations began to irritate me, I wandered off a ways. That tour included a pit stop.
One of the JrROTC instructors made me wait while he fiddled with the door and finally got himself through it. Guess he figured that we old folks could just suck it up. After all, the day was all about him, right?
Then there were the boxes of wreaths themselves. They really looked ugly sitting around here and there curbside. Seemed like every section of the cemetery had some. Must be that somebody thought that having them readily accessible for distribution was worth their unsightliness.
In the distance there were occasional sounds from the carillon, the loudspeaker, and finally the volley of rifle fire. Must have been an interesting ceremony. Maybe next year I will attend that.
Did I mention that the wind was blowing? It was chilly. Yeah, that, too, was aggravating. But, it sure made the flags move beautifully.
Suddenly there were people grabbing wreaths from boxes and taking them to graves. I was confused. Maybe it was just that sort of day. Emotional chaos within seems to project itself upon one’s view of the world around us. In a matter of moments there were families, scouts, local firefighters, those JrROTC kids, and ordinary citizens placing wreaths all around me. The three graves I was planning to attend to got covered. I fixed the bows. From the spot reserved for my eventual burial, I placed only two wreaths. And made a silent vow to do the same every year for as long as I am able to climb that little hill in front of the graves.
A good friend had joined me to be sure that I was not alone for this adventure. A dear man escorted us down the hill having himself placed a wreath on his wife’s grave. He also promised to help me clean gravestones in the spring.
Meanwhile, those cardboard boxes had vaporized as had most of the vehicles and people. A few of us were lingering. I managed a quick trip through the cemetery. It was beautiful. And very, very peaceful.
I stopped by the office to see if there was anything else I could do for them. In spite of the obvious conspiracy to make my day unpleasant, I had already done a few needed chores for them. Since it was also obvious that I had been impossible to please that day, I promised to do better in the future. They looked at me as if I were from another planet. Maybe the world really hadn’t been so bad, and perhaps I had not really been all that unpleasant after all.
The cemetery was beautiful. The sun was shining. And I was at peace.