Celebrating at the Cemetary

Cemetary. Celebration? Sounds a bit odd doesn’t it? In fact, it is a day full of catching up and something I look forward to every year.

Yearly, every second Sunday in June, is known as Decoration Sunday, or what our family calls “Erskine” due to the name of the Cemetary. Some family from near and far (second to fourth cousins, (great) aunts & uncles) come out to place fresh flowers, and lunch usually follows at my grandparents. Later in the week my grandparents go pick up the vases.

It isn’t the only time the sites are visited, at Christmas wreaths are placed and someone heads up to the gardens in the early spring to ensure they are dug, planted and weeded, and during a dry spell to ensure they are well watered.

My family history is here. My great grandparents. My great great grandparents. My now deceased grandparent siblings (families each of 7 children), and sadly even a young baby birthed by a cousin and lost after two weeks of life. Something feels right though, about everybody being together in one place, whether they were buried or cremated, but here laid to rest.

Most headstones represent multiple lives, with family being born from the 1800’s until a few years ago. It is always appealing to me to see the names passed through generations and the fact that this day is celebrated by four current generations. My family has been visiting this cemetary (created in the 1850’s) for more than 70 years!

This year my soon to be 91 year old Nanny fractured her pelvis just a few weeks ago. It was the first time she didn’t attend the Cemetary portion, but you can be sure she wheeled herself outside at her house to help prepare the vases with fresh flowers. She asked my son to do the work for her this year and next year she will be back at it. Later in the week she will go with my grandfather to pick everything up, but with uneven ground she might have to wait in the truck, but – she will do her part.

I always find family history intriguing and so much information can be found in this one place. In fact, I’ve also found a Pickering Ajax Digital Archives which I can find pictures of family headstones from this Cemetary or things such as my grandparents wedding announcement to their grade school pictures! I am unsure if all towns/municipalities have such a collection, but it is amazing to have such history available with a quick search.

Sometimes the only time we see distant or out of area family is on this day. Before the world of Facebook and email, we were less in touch. Although social media has made keeping abreast easier, there is nothing like actually seeing each other.  I can’t think of a better way than to celebrate our ancestors who actually made us a family.

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