Memorial Day

Here’s what I wrote in my essay “Memorial Day,” published about a year ago in Tablet, about a month and a half before my dad died:

Elizabeth Hopkins, my father’s mother, is buried in a cemetery in Lyndeborough. I called the town’s tiny government offices a few years ago to ask them about the grave, when we were trying to figure out what to do with my dad’s remains when he dies. The Hopkins family plot, the kind man who answered the phone told me, does not have enough room for another body, but it does have room for ashes and one more marker. Once the electrodes and wires and titanium-enclosed battery pack are at last removed from my father’s head and chest, and his body is placed in a plain pine box (“like Ann’s,” he wrote in funeral arrangement checklist, when he could still write), then cremated, it’s my wish to bury his ashes there. It’s also my wish to have a stone there with text carved into it that makes it both a headstone for my dad and a cenotaph for my mom—so long as I can convince myself that this will not offend the living or the dead.

And here’s what we did—which ended up being not all that different from what I thought we’d do, really—this past Memorial Day weekend; this is Emily, Toby, and me, honoring my son’s grandmother, grandfather, and great-grandmother:

May their memories be a blessing.