I think I have disliked this day most of my life. For me it was never about the fallen soldiers, although we always honored them. No, the dislike started the year after my mother died. Or maybe it was the same year, now that I think of it. My dad dressed me up in my very best dress. It was all white and lacy and had ribbons that ran down the side. I remember overhearing him say it cost $50, a princely sum when he only made $1.25 per hour. It's old and musty now, discolored. But it remains packed in a box. I have, on numerous occasions, tried to get rid of it. But for some reason I still have it. My tiny little brother also dressed in his finest, as we visited the site where my mother was laid to rest after a viscous battle with breast cancer. She was 27 years old, and she left behind a husband, a daughter, six, and a six-month-old baby boy.
Every year my dad would take us up to the cemetery to lay flowers in honor of my mother. Like I ever needed a special day to remember her. She was in my mind every day of my childhood. It always ended the same. I would cry, and my dad would feel helpless, my brother confused.
They met my chance. My mother, from Stockton, California was visiting her parents, who for some reason, moved to Gerlach, Nevada to open a restaurant. It was my dad's hometown. Full of his big family, and life-long friends. My dad, home on leave, became the love of her life. She immediately moved to Gerlach and began a campaign to win him over, starting with his mother. By the time he was discharged, the web was complete. The dye had been cast. The handsome cowboy would be single no longer. I was born on their first anniversary.
So today I am supposed to go up to the cemetery where four generations lay in rest, close by each other. In some ways it's comforting, knowing they're all together.
But I just don't see my parents there. I never have. I see them dancing cheek to cheek. They're young, beautiful, and healthy. A song by Patsy Cline is playing in the the background. Their parents are sitting at Bruno's Bar laughing. All the cousins and siblings are there too. My brother and I are chewing on jerky and sipping shirley temples.
Life is good.