Thursday, May 21, 2009
By this time tomorrow, I will be embarking on a yearly tradition---the annual Memorial Day Loop, as we call it. We journey north, meeting up with family members in Pocatello.(They drive up from Utah, it's kind of a half-way stop for everyone.)
On we travel to Idaho Falls, where we always stop for a bite of lunch. Our favorite restaurant there is Smitty's, home of the famous pancake breakfast. We partake of savory cuisine, then before leaving the Idaho Falls area, we usually visit with relatives and close family friends who live in that location.
When we leave Idaho Falls, we head to Lewisville, to the beautiful cemetery where my father is buried. His parents, and a brother and sister are buried there as well, so we decorate all of the family graves, then drive on to Annis, Idaho. Here another aunt and uncle are buried as well as one of my childhood friends who died from a rare kidney disease when we were about eleven years old. We honor their memory by placing beautiful flowers on their graves, and then drive on to nearby Rigby where we refuel our vehicles. Then it's on to Swan Valley, Idaho.
I've touched on why we stop there in other posts---those wonderful square ice cream cones. ;) I'm so looking forward to enjoying one of those this weekend. =D
From there we travel around the beautiful Palisades Lake and drop into Wyoming. Since my mother's family is from Thayne originally, we usually stay at a motel in that location called the Cabin Creek Inn. This place has wonderful cabins that are like a home away from home. And the breakfast they serve each morning makes my mouth water to think of it. Homemade biscuits and gravy, a variety of fruit, as well as waffles, cereal, and so forth.
We decorate several family graves in Thayne, and then spend some time at the Star Valley Cheese Factory where 3 generations of my family have worked. Both of my maternal grandparents worked in this facility, as well as my mother when she was a teenager, and several years ago, my brother worked there as well. This place holds a special place in our hearts and we enjoy purchasing cheese, and sometimes eating lunch in this fun location.
At some point during the weekend, we usually drive over to Grays Lake, Idaho where my mother's family has strong roots. Several of our ancestors are buried in the private cemetery in this location. Two of our aunts still live there and we try to spend time with them. From there, we part ways and journey home.
This loop has been an important tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I remember traveling with my parents from cemetery to cemetery, helping to place flowers on the various graves. Some might think this is a morbid thing to do, but I was always taught that it's important to remember those who have gone on before. Decorating their graves is a way we can honor their memory, and keep important family stories alive. These stories have been passed down from one generation to another, and they are always shared during the Memorial Day Loop. It's one way we can strengthen the link between the generations, inspiring a sense of love and admiration for those who have paved the way for the rest of us.
It's not always possible for everyone to make the yearly journey, but I know that those who can't come with us this year, are with us in spirit. And as we set out flowers as both of my grandmothers used to do, we can't help but feel a bond. We are keeping an important tradition alive, hopefully passing the torch on one day to those who will follow in our footsteps.