Christmas trees

On Christmas Eve, after much deliberation and help from my facebook friends, I decided that John would get the smaller, sparse real tree.  His parents would get the larger, artificial tree with more decorations.  One of John’s friends made a lot of sense… he said John liked things quaint and wasn’t into flashy things.  That pretty much sealed the deal.  I think John would think the little live tree was cool, too.  John found little things to be cute.

Nathaniel & I attended the barn service that was put on by Bethel Lutheran.  Pastor Little did this service.  He is a retired Pastor from Bethel.  It was a good service and I really admired him since he’d lost his wife on the 14th.  I don’t know Pastor Little and I didn’t know his wife, but I do know how hard it is to continue with life after the loss of a spouse.

After the service, decided to go to the cemetery.  I already had on my coveralls and tall boots.  It was almost dusk.  So, I made my way to the cemetery in the Jeep.  The middle pathway wasn’t cleared of snow.  I thought that was sad that they hadn’t plowed it.  Some people had driven through there, but it was pretty icy and slick, so I decided it would best to walk.  Getting the Jeep stuck in the cemetery wasn’t my idea of an ideal Christmas Eve.  I’d already come to close to getting stuck several times in the previous days and I really didn’t want to risk it.

I decided to leave Nathaniel in the car.  It was cold and windy and I didn’t want to risk falling while carrying him.

It was pretty slick just walking, so I felt I’d made a good choice.

All of the sudden I got nervous.  There were no tracks leading down to Ann & Dave’s section.  I had spotted their headstone, but I didn’t know where the path was.  Some of the headstones were covered in snow.  I was worried about stepping on a flat stone or tripping over a small headstone.  It was sad the number of graves in this section that didn’t have decoration.  A lot of the stones are older.  When somebody died in the late 1800s or early 1900s… who is left that cares?  It struck me with great sadness.  Someday, there will come a time when I’m gone.  Will Nathaniel visit our grave?  What if he’s moved away?  Even he continues to look out for us.  What about when he’s gone?

That’s one reason that I don’t want a headstone with a vase.  Having a vase means that there should be flowers.  Vases without flowers seem sad and forgotten.

When I was a kid, my mother had done genealogy research and found a graveyard where a relative who was a veteran of the Civil War was buried.  We traveled to West Virginia and found the cemetery.  It was overgrown and we had to fight through sticker bushes to get into it.  We did find his grave, but the experience left a mark on me.  I hope that I’ll never be buried in a forgotten overgrown cemetery.  I hope that Brookview will continued to be maintained as it is for many centuries to come.

So, I carefully picked my way through the deep snow.  Luckily, I didn’t step on or trip over any headstones.  I put the tree at the grave.

Ann & Dave's tree

Then I realized the sad state that the flag was in.  John’s father was a veteran and it wasn’t right to leave the flag in that state.  Flag day or veteran’s day… I can’t remember which holiday they put the flags up… was a long time ago and many of the flags are in sad shape.  A flag in that state should really be removed and destroyed properly, but I didn’t have the heart to remove it either.  I didn’t have one to replace it with.

So… I used what I had…

baling twine

I did the best that I could to dust the snow away.  Damn Reynauds, my hands were FREEZING despite the warm gloves that John had bought for me.  I was going to try to tie the tree to better anchor it (hence the baling twine), but I figured the snow would work well enough.  I also figured if I didn’t get moving my fingers would be burning when I got to John’s grave.  I also didn’t want Nathaniel to be alone for too long.

Merry Christmas, Ann & Dave

When I got back to the Jeep, kiddo was happy.  I was so glad he hadn’t been crying.  Maybe he was watching me.

I drove over to John’s grave.  Kiddo wanted out.  I thought it appropriate that he get to help with his daddy’s tree.  Once out, he wanted me to hold him.  Maybe I was giving vibes to him.  Maybe he was discombobulated from his shorter nap.

John's tree, Christmas Eve 2009

I held Nathaniel and sang the first part of  “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  I couldn’t get any further.  I had wanted to sing a few Christmas carols to John, but it was all I could do to not start bawling and besides… my singing really isn’t a treat…

John's grave, Christmas Eve 2009

I got kiddo back in the car seat and did our ritualistic drive around the cemetery.  It broke my heart that we had two graves to look at.  Ann,  John, and myself (and then John & I… and now just me)  would always comment on how clearly the little tree stood out and how pretty it was.

I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Luckily, Nathaniel couldn’t see my sadness.  I try to do everything I can to keep my grief from interfering with his life.  A kiddo shouldn’t have to endure such heavy burdens and sadness.

My composure rapidly returned and I was able to continue with the old Christmas Eve traditions of visiting John’s father’s side of the family.  I had slight concerns that I might feel like an outsider.  So many widows are shunned from the in-laws side of the family.  But I’ve been fortunate that thus far that hasn’t been the case at all.  I think it is important that Nathaniel know his relatives on his father’s side.  I think it helps that right now, Nathaniel is a very cute, usually well behaved, usually sweet child.  My goal in life is to keep him well behaved, well mannered, and pleasant.

And that was my Christmas Eve… one of many emotions… a pair of coveralls, tall boots, and two trees…

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About Mary K. Smith

I was widowed in July 2009, when I lost my beloved husband, John, to melanoma. Cancer SUCKS. We have a young son who was just a year old when his father died. I live on a small farm in Maryland which is home to horses, cats, and a dog. I started this blog as a way for me to heal, a way to remember my husband, and eventually I'd like to share it with our son so he can see the love that his father had for him, the love that we had for each other, what a great person his father was, and how hard his father fought to live.
This entry was posted in Events in honor of John, Family, Life after John's Death, Nathaniel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Christmas trees

  1. Frank Brown says:

    Someone has adopted the cemetery where you great great grandfather William H Wheeler is buried. They cut down all of the vines and shrubs that had grown up and keep the grass mowed. The cemetery is located on a road that goes back to Eric aand Brianna Hailer’s house.

    • Mom had told me that somebody was taking care of the cemetery. I’m so glad they are. It was so sad that it had been completely forgotten and I’m sure there are tons of forgotten cemeteries out there.

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