Geraniums, grits, and grandparents

Updated: Jun 1

My dad's dad, Sam, grew up in northern Colorado and served in the Army during WWII. His mom, Margaret (which is pronounced Maaagrit) grew up in North Carolina. She and her sister were given up to the care of an orphanage and, as the story goes, she lied about her age to serve in the Army as a nurse. They raised my dad and his sisters in places like Kermit, Texas, and Abbeyville, Louisiana. They lived in South Africa and London in the 70s and 80s, grandpa Sam working for Phillips 66. They returned to the states when I was a kid and she taught me how to make grits, chokecherry jelly, and a respectable roux. Sam taught me to identify rocks and let me drink strawberry Crush and eat dry roasted peanuts without abandon.

My grandpa Dave grew up in Missouri, and served in the Navy from 1942 to 1946. He grew tomatoes from seed, had a calendar- and tool-filled shop, and sold Draw-Tite hitches. He knew every cafe with pie in the Southern states. Grandma June was born in Mandan, North Dakota, and her mother owned a beauty shop in the little Missouri town they moved to. Grandma's name was, as she said her mother yelled it from the squeaky screen door, "Helen, Dorothy, Ernest, David, Juuuuune!" She was a gym teacher and when she told us to dry between our toes, we did it. I think of her each time I see a red geranium.

My dad's parents are one of the few couples both buried as service members at Fort Logan. Grandma June's brother Ernest was killed on the final day of WWII.

I didn't do anything particularly inspired today, Memorial Day, to honor my grandparents or the servicemembers killed defending our country. I did put my flag up, looking out over the nicest wheat field in Morgan County. My sister sent me a picture of the shrimp and grits she was eating in NOLA. I planted tomatoes and geraniums, ate some peanuts out of the jar lid, and we took our three-year-old fishing.

The fishing pond on my brother in law's farm is next to a cemetery. It is home to a number of old gravestones that have flags placed on them but don’t appear to have visitors. There are a handful that have plants next to them that need deadheaded or trimmed and I do that each year. I don’t know them, but I’m pretty sure they- all of them- would approve.

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