The old, Catholic cemetery where family is buried is mostly Hispanic. Whenever we would go to place flowers on graves, my father would make fun of all the seasonal decorations others would place on their loved ones’ plots.
If it was Christmas, there would be holiday decorations and twinkly lights; if it was Valentine’s, there would be heart-shaped Mylar balloons and cardboard Cupids shooting arrows. Whatever the holiday, so was the tribute.
Dad made us promise we wouldn’t do this to him when he was gone. He thought these were tacky and disrespectful.
Daddy died in January 2006 and we were so broken-hearted that we went back often to stand in silence by his grave site. Mom made sure the headstone was set right, and afterwards we stayed away for months until Father’s Day approached.
No more ties, chocolates, or new shirts. This year we would all buy flowers as gifts. As the day approached, we decided, one by one, to ease back into visiting his grave, and the first to go was appalled at what was there. The ground had settled and it had sunk into an uneven hole. Dad’s headstone was askew. There was no grass, only weeds.
The alert was sounded.
Mom called the cemetery and made her complaint. She demanded they fix his grave site immediately, then she supervised as they filled in his plot and straightened his headstone. We showed up with carpet grass squares, garden tools, and water hoses. We set to work.
By Father’s Day, everything was as it should be – a fitting tribute to a good man. We all stood around his headstone in remembrance. We placed our flowers, said our prayers, and (just for fun) we staked an oversized toy windmill in the center. It was big and red and tacky.
Happy Father’s Day.