I had a few minutes to myself late this morning so I decided to go back to the cemetery. We had monsoon-level rains on Monday after the Mass and before the barbecue, and we had them again yesterday but this morning was beautiful and dry and sunny so out I went.
Saturday is an active day at Gate of Heaven. You could see canopies and chairs set out, earth dug up, in one place a marker had been moved, anticipating a new occupant. I got to see all of this in more detail than usual because the little road closest to Thomas was blocked off and I had to walk across the grass to get to him. And yes, I check out the neighbors too (I always think of Thornton Wilder's Our Town which was the school play one of my high school years. Marked for life by a play I didn't much like).
When I got to Thomas's grave, I found the two little flags we had left on Monday planted at the upper corners of the marker. In between them now were two much larger flags, evenly spaced. The tips were different so I assume they came from different people. After I stared at the marker for a few minutes, I realized that there were flower petals scattered around the marker, and after a few more minutes of staring, I found them on the grave too. Those monsoon rains had apparently crushed them and left them soggy, but they also made sure the petals stayed put.
I like knowing people have been there.
On my way back to my car, I stopped at a few other flag-decorated graves. Two side by side had the same last name, one a veteran of WWII, one of Viet Nam. The elder died in 1973, the younger about three months later at the age of 21. I wonder about their story, but I've let their names slip through my memory so I'll never know. But at least for a few minutes today, the traditional Memorial Day, someone honored their memory.
Wikipedia's entry for Memorial Day (at least today's version) has an explanation of the date and observance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day