The Family of Steve & Linda Wilson

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PEONY MEMORIES

A good friend I went to school with in Indiana posted this picture on facebook this morning. It brought back so many memories for me of my Grandma Hawkins and what we used to call Decoration Day, now Memorial Day. I am going to write down some of these memories for my grandchildren to see. 

Grandma had a couple of huge peony bushes in her yard between her garden and her house. One was white and one was pink. She would cut the blooms and make bouquets to take to the cemeteries to put on relatives graves. Grandma and Grandpa didn't own a car and neither ever drove so we were their transportation. We would load up the car  - Dad, Mom, Becky, Myself, Grandpa and Grandma and head out. We would always run into other relatives and spend an hour or two visiting under the shade trees in the church yards. We usually took a thermos jug and a snack and of course grandma's bouquets. First we would go to Mt. Ebal Cemetery where grandma's parents were buried as well as my mom's baby brother, grandma's only brother and other of her relatives. I would learn much about little Morris Eugene and how horrible his death was at age 4 of diptheria. I heard about being quaranteened in a house with no one allowed in, the other children kept home from school and the neighbors standing outside in the yard while the family stayed in the house by themselves for the funeral. I would hear about my great-uncle being electrocuted when a storm knocked down some electrical lines. Electricity had been fairly new in our rural area at that time and its power was fascinating. I would listen to my grandma talk about losing her only brother, her beloved baby, etc and her faith in God that saw her through those times. I believed if my grandma could survive all that and continue to love God and trust him like she did that I, too, could survive anything with God's help. That has served me well over the years.

My dad had several relatives, mostly uncles, buried in that same cemetery. I was always fascinated when he would point out their gravestones. My maiden name was Sowders. I couldn't understand how all these men had been my grandpa's brothers because their names were Sowders, Sowder, Souder, and Souders. Years later when I lived in New York City I looked up the name/s out at the Statue of Liberty. Yes, they were all there.

After Mt. Ebal we would drive over to Chapel Hill Cemetery where my grandpa's family was buried. Those stories were interesting as well. My Great-Grandma Hawkins was evidently quite a character. She was known as the local who could fore-tell things and was called a witch by some. She would tell people that far-away relatives had died before they ever got the official word, and other things of that nature. There was actually a newspaper article written about her many years later.

Entertainment was also a part of the day. In those days the Indianapolis 500 was run on the actual day, not on a weekend like it is now. Someone, usually my Uncle Bill, would have his car radio on to keep us updated on the race. Sometimes when I would get bored with everything I would sit in is car and listen to the race while the adults visited.

One of the main lessons for me was this; Be kind and do for others even when it isn't what you really want to do with your time. My dad worked in a foundry and I know this was not his favorite way to spend his day off. But he did it year after year with a smile on his face because he knew it was important to my grandparents and therefore important to my mother. Later when I became an adult with a job, a home, and a family I came to see how precious a day off work could be and I had a greater appreciation for all my dad had done for my elderly grandparents out of love.

And all that came from seeing the picture below on my friend's page this morning. Isn't it beautiful?


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