How Do You Cemetery?

“Life just gives us time and space. It’s up to us to fill it with joy and meaning.”

This time of year, as I have previously written about, I find myself thinking about my Mama a lot because I lost her 2 weeks before my 50th birthday. Memories pop us…some happy…others sad. But the memories that stand out the most are the happy, celebratory ones.

You see, the event planner in me enjoys celebrations of all kinds….life, death and everything in between. There are moments of joy and happiness to be found everywhere. We just have to choose to look there and live in that space.

Mama enjoyed a great celebration and always loved to honor those who passed before her. And, my Honey-Honey always appeased her and took her for rides to the cemetery to “visit” with all the friends and family interred there. Once my dad passed away, the duties fell on me and my brother. As a matter of fact, my brother and Mama had quite the routine. They’d stop for Italian sandwiches sometimes, or at Mazur’s Bakery for some Italian pastries, which they would then enjoy while “visiting” with my father.

Mama said it brought her comfort to visit with dad even though she knew his spirit was no longer there. But something about knowing his bones were there brought her peace. Truthfully speaking, I’ve never been one for the whole cemetery thing. However, since losing Mama, and knowing how much she LOVED visiting there, I have taken to going 2-3 times a year. Usually around Mother’s Day, her anniversary and Christmas. The Christmas blanket is a must!

What else is a must? Well, for that, I have my cemetery partner in crime, Patti (aka Mother Superior / MS). We have taken cemetery field trips to another level! We too stop at the Italian Deli, the liquor store for a bottle of Chianti, my customary roses that I leave on top of the tombstones and, this year, MS brought along sunflowers since those were her dad’s favorite. We lay out a picnic blanket, chat, eat, toast and sip as we make our way thru the various stops we make. Oh, and no plastic wine glasses! This year, Patti came armed with “Grateful” and “Thankful” wine glasses…..presentation, presentation, presentation!

Needless to say, our “visits” usually last somewhere in the vicinity of 2 hours. I’m sure they make Mama smile AND cringe at the same time. As far as Frankie, Patti’s dad (and former bartender in Hoboken) goes, he is probably really proud of us. I can see him smiling down at us! Oh, and we usually leave our mark by Frankie and place the empty Chianti bottle by his tombstone.

Yep…..I am turning into my mother but have stepped it up a few notches. I get where she was coming from….you can’t beat the peace and quite, green grass under your bare feet, the lovely sunshine on warm as well as cold days, the falling leaves, and the majestic landscape when snow has fallen.

My darlings, it’s all about the celebration! More importantly, it’s about the attitude and joie de vivre….the zest, exuberance, verve and effervescence we bring to our daily lives and the lives of those around us. Yes, life serves us up a plenty of sucky” situations. As Sheryl Sandberg notes in her bestseller, Option B, sometimes we must just “lean into the suck.”  However,  it does not mean we have to wallow there. I believe a healthy dose of gratitude and a little celebratory cheerfulness go a long way. They keep us afloat and in good spirits when we are faced with adversity as well as sad, painful and heart wrenching moments….especially when we lose a loved one.

Live it up…live out loud….live a succulent life! What’s the flip side? Six feet under….we’re all headed there. Each day brings us one day closer to when we leave this physical world. While we are still here, what do you say we do it in style? Always and in all ways. Carry on!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

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