Archives for posts with tag: Memorial Day

Donna Louise here. Yesterday I spent most of the day decorating graves by myself or with friends. The irony of being depressed, channeling Auntie Mame and paying tribute to dead people made me laugh several times during the day.

I traveled with one friend to a cemetery in another town some distance away so he could place flowers on his parents’ graves. He’d avoided going for a long time, but felt the need to do something this year. What a lovely day for a drive o a country cemetery in the middle of a pasture. He showed me the graves of his relatives and I sat in the car while he tended to his parents’ graves.

They shunned him when he was 18 years old because they discovered his relationship with another young man in their church. He had planned to start college in the fall, but the revelation about his sexual orientation led his parents to drop all plans to pay for his schooling. Really, their new knowledge of him made them run him off.

He moved to the big city where he worked two and three jobs to put himself through college. I met him at one of his server jobs at a local restaurant. Such a sad young man, so I took him under my wing. Over the years we’ve become quite good friends.

He heard that his parents had died from someone who lived near his parents. No one in his family ever called him with the news. He said, “They didn’t even want me at the funeral as if I would do something inappropriate.” That hurt him deeply, but he went on with his life.

When he called me on Friday and asked me to go with him to the family cemetery, I said, “I’d love to go with you.”

On the way, he told me stories about his childhood on the farm, about learning he was different from other boys, how he coped with that, and finally how much the other young man had meant to him in a world where it seemed he was the only other homosexual alive. He cried when he talked about his parents shunning him—actually everyone in the area turned against him. His world was taken away from him overnight. He vowed never to let anyone have that much power over him again.

“Donna Louise, it took me years to fall in love. I wanted to make sure that no one could hurt me again. Of course, that never happens.”

 As I sat in the car, he pulled the grass and weeds from around the marker. He washed it off and polished it with a cloth he’d brought. While he worked a truck pulled up at the fence around the cemetery. A man hopped out of the cab and walked to the wrought iron fence. He stared at my friend.

Tom, my friend, looked up and the expression on his face showed how surprised he was to see the man standing there. The guy stared at Tom, jumped the fence and hugged Tom for the longest time. I heard them crying. The man said something before he turned away, vaulted over the fence and drove off across the field.

Tom almost collapsed on the ground. I rushed over to make sure he was okay. “Tom, sit down before you fall down. Who was that guy?”

Tom grabbed hold of me and put his head on my shoulder for a big boohoo. Between sobs, I learned the guy was the young man he’d loved as an 18 year old. The community had “saved” him, in large part because he was the minister’s son.

“What did he have to say to you?”

Tom blew his nose and wiped his tears off his face. “He said, ‘I have never stopped loving you. Now, finish up here and never come back. I won’t give you a second chance to ruin my life.” Tom wept some more.

All I could do was hold him in my arms while he cried. Inside I raged at the guy who’d made my friend cry and then told him to go away. I wanted to follow that asshole and give him a piece of my mind. Tom made me climb back in the car and we drove back to the city.

When he dropped me off, I asked, “Will you be okay?”

He squeezed my hand. “He told me he still loves me. I feel sorry for him and his wife and children. They don’t know him. I do. I’ve moved on. In a complicated way, he set me free today with his admission. I don’t think I need to ever go back to that barren place in the country. My life is here with friends like you. Thanks for going with me.”

As he drove off down the street, I realized that my family of choice means the world to me. I know their lives and their hearts and they know mine. Today I’ll go to Mama’s grave with the pinwheels she loved to play with. I’ll have a little talk with her bring out my memories of our time together. It’s not called “Memorial Day” for nothing.


Donna Louise here seeking wisdom by reading Greek mythology. Carl Jung talked about archetypes and how they appear in our dreams and our waking lives.  Certain kinds of birds are archetypes: the crow, the raven, the bluebird.

My favorite birds are small ones that run from me like robins and cardinals. 

Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, made me distrustful of birds in general. The image of poor, traumatized Tippi Hedren flinging herself against the insides of that phone booth as the birds crash into it is burned into my brain. They wanted to peck her eyes out. I refused to leave the house for days after I saw that movie.

I’m not a fan of big birds like Sesame Street’s Big Bird. (What an annoying creature.)

Even medium size birds, like chickens or geese, bother me.

When I was little, Grandma would send me to the dirty, nasty chicken coop to gather eggs. I’d reach under hens. Eww!

The worst part was the walk to and from the chicken coop. This old rooster would see me coming and attack. Sometimes I’d drop the bucket and run screaming, “He pecked me with his pecker.”

One day Grandma took my hand in hers and grabbed the metal egg bucket. “Let’s go. You can’t let a rooster torment you with his pecker.”

As we crossed the yard, he came after me. When he got close, Grandma slammed the metal pail up the side of his head. He wobbled off just like a conked cartoon chicken.

I wish Grandma had been with me at the cemetery. As I bent over to gather my things, I felt as though someone was watching me. I ignored the feeling. Then someone pinched my bottom. Well, I reared up and spun around.

A bevy of swans stood silently staring at me. The cob, the male, had an angry look in his eyes like he’d bit me. The pens, the females, and the cygnets, the babies, all had a look in their eyes like they’d been extras for Alfred Hitchcock during The Birds.

Mama didn’t raise no stupid girl. I took off. The insane swans followed. They didn’t go away until about 6 p.m. so I spent the day in a hot car. That was very ugly.

Gotta go and finish reading about Leda and the Swan as I try to figure out what archetype swans represent. I got off easy. Leda got knocked up her swan.