Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Transition from Summer To Fall

The ending of summer and the beginning of fall brings many chores to be accomplished.  It means putting away the porch furniture, making sure our heating systems are in good shape and bringing all those beautiful plants indoors.  I call it a chore because I never know where to put them all, and I know they won't look as lush and healthy as they do after a summer with proper temperatures and humidity.  I just hope I can make them survive through the winter.


Another thing I do (and it really isn't a chore either) is to go to the cemeteries to pick up the flower baskets that get placed there every spring.  I still put flowers on my parents', my grandparents', my great grandparents' graves and an unmarried aunt and uncle of mine.  It is something my parents took pride in, and I continue to do it although not to the extent they did.  

This fall my daughter went with me for the cemetery visit.  The cemeteries are a two hour drive, and it was nice to remember and tell stories of relatives to my daughter, many of whom she never met.  A friend of mine reminded me to start writing some of those stories down because a lot of them will die with me.  This was evident in the old section of one of the cemeteries.  Only one other grave had flowers in that section.  A lot of the stones have eroded away and can't even be read.  I am sure there are no living relatives for many of those souls.

The other cemetery we visited is out in the country.   It is a small serene place that felt very calm and comforting.  My mother's father, mother, grandmother, grandfather and her sister are buried in this area.  Her only remaining brother passed away almost three years ago and his family placed a beautiful stone near the family plot.  As long as his wife is alive, they will keep the ashes.  Then they both will be buried in this location.  I take a basket of flowers there every year and in the past have tried to plant some perennials and even a lilac bush or two.  I planted hostas which got eaten immediately by the deer.  I planted irises which lived but only bloom for a short period of time and the lilac bushes disappeared.  They probably died or got cut down somehow.  My parents would be so sad.  Every year they would take several hours cleaning up the area, raking out the weeds and then put down a new layer of white rock.  Hopefully next spring I can go in with a plan to bring this area back to looking fresh and loved.


While we were there, my daughter noticed a bronze flag holder with an emblem in back of my grandmother's stone and facing away.  I never met her.  My mother's mom died in 1938 two weeks before she turned 50. It is the exact age my oldest daughter is now.  My grandmother had given birth to ten children, and my mom was the second youngest.  She was only thirteen when her mom died.  She had to be strong and grow up fast.  I hadn't noticed this bronze emblem before.  It says RNA and In Memoriam.


We noticed a couple others in the cemetery.  Neither of us had any idea what it was.  After a google search, I found out.  It was from the RNA or the Royal Neighbors of America.  "Royal Neighbors members have been volunteering and doing good things in their local communities for more than 125 years.  Through their programs, they help stimulate volunteerism in the neighborhoods where their members live, work, and play." 

I don't know the real story of why my grandmother had this on her grave.  With ten children and no modern conveniences, I can't imagine she had a lot of free time to volunteer.  I do think communities were very close and helped each other out.   I am so proud that the women in my family have always been so strong.   Apparently RNA is still active to this day.  

My daughter and I had a wonderful day even if it revolved around people who had passed away, and we had the best lunch ever....A & W Root Beer floats and french fries.  

From the website:  "Royal Neighbors of America (RNA) - A non-profit fraternal membership organization that offers life insurance, annuities and Medicare supplement for women.  Back in 1895 when women couldn't vote, couldn't own property, and weren't allowed to own life insurance, nine women founded Royal Neighbors of America.  It is one of the largest women-led life insurers in the nation with a message that remains important and relevant today--empowering women to better their lives through financial protection solutions and opportunities to give back to their communities.  F.E.C.M.U. stands for Faith, Endurance, Courage, Modesty and Unselfishness."