Monday, May 27, 2019

Decoration Day

Forgotten Tradition: Picnicking in a Graveyard, Decoration Day

I came to age in a much simpler time than my children — TVs were filled with static and came in shades of black and white.  Church, too, was considerably simpler.  We didn’t have worship teams or giant screens on the walls showcasing the lyrics to the latest chart topping praise song.
Nope.  Instead, we had hard wooden pews and broke down hymnals, but when the saints would open these musky old books, boy would the glory fall upon our tiny mountain church.  We may have been on the backside of an unnamed and forgotten Virginia ‘holler’, but on Sunday mornings, we met with God!
Church was important to our family and the only Sunday we’d ever miss came around this time of year each spring.  It was on this day that we’d all gather together early Sunday morning for the simple task of cleaning the headstones in the neighboring cemetery next to the old church building.
It may have been the day of rest, but on this particular Sunday, you could rest assured that you’d go to bed tired from having cleared brush, trimmed around bricks and scrubbed headstones until they were shiny.
The day would be filled with tears, as widows, sons and friends would weep at the sight of simple concrete or marble markers which told the story of lives that were no more.
The day would also be filled with history lessons from Granny who would walk through the graveyard with an almost glimmer in her eye.
“This is my brother’s grave, he fought in the Great War.”
“This is where my cousin is buried, she had a little mean dog that would always bite me… I wish I could remember that dog’s name.”
“Over there is your Pa’s grave, you would have really loved him if you’d ever gotten the chance to know ’em.”
After all of our morning labors were complete, one by one, the hatches to those old Fords would open and some of the most gaudy flowers your eyes have ever witnessed would be packed through the church yard and into the graveyard.
Flowers would be solemnly placed onto tombstones by loved ones and by the end of the afternoon, every grave would have some type of decoration.
Then came my favorite part of what we called “Decoration Sunday”, the churchwide picnic in the cemetery.
It may seem like a ghastly thing to someone from this generation, the sight of families laying out blankets alongside the headstone of a passed loved one and feasting upon fried chicken, but for us, it was a tradition.  A classic American mountain tradition that would culminate with a game of hide-n-seek or tag in a freshly decorated Appalachian graveyard.
We did not run from death as so many these days seem to do, nor did we attempt to amuse ourselves with devices that removed the thought of our own demise to the back-burner of our consciousness.
Instead, we embraced death.  The songs we sang all reminded us that we would all soon face death and as a result of this awareness, we were able to live. Truly live.
Decoration Day has become a forgotten relic of a bygone era in America, but I for one, appreciate the reality that I was around for those history lessons, picnics and games of tag in an Appalachian cemetery.

Friday, May 10, 2019

This Is Why We Prep

I thought I was busy before, but trying to raise a 9 yr old., rebuild what we need to after a F2 tornado (5MPH shy of an F3) hit our house & property & get the garden's going to be a very busy summer. I'm feeling blessed that we all made it thru it, especially when I was on the first floor in front of a picture window when it hit our house. Chick was terribly shaken, but she is now doing well after alot of TLC. Jim & I are spending every day either working or having people come out to give us estimates. We have a huge amount of work to be done.Just within the last couple of days have we finally felt ourselves. This has been a very traumatic experience.
If we had not been so self sufficient we would not have fared as well. THIS IS WHY WE PREP!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Tornado Update & Update Again 7-2-19

We finally found out that the tornado that hit our place was 5 miles an hour short of an F3. At this point we are still waiting for ins. to show up & it is very hard to keep calm when there is only a tarp keeping the whole house dry & there is severe weather coming again next week. 2 of our neighbors have a total loss. It is raining  now & I am so worried we are going to have issues. Jim has been clearing brush all day. I have been taking pictures of everything he's doing for ins. as well as for us. We have lost most of the trees we have planted since we built the house. Pretty much my flowers are shit for this year, but  one iris bloomed for me this morning. Maybe it's a sign. On a side note.....when they tell you to take cover, do it. Jim & Chick made it to the basement, I did not. I never want to go through that again. I came back upstairs for something & it hit as I was standing  5 ft from a 4ftx7ft window. I never want to hear that noise again.
Update 7-2-19: Our neighborhood is still trying to recover. All of the homes that border our acreage to the east are a complete loss. That's 4, possibly 5 homes. I can throw a rock at these places, they are that close. Thank God, no loss of life or injuries, but total loss of everything for them. We are very lucky. The house is done, finally, & now we will spend the rest of the summer working on the outbuildings, trees & fence all around our property. It's been very stressful to have strangers on our place, it's not something any of us are use to, but again, we are to the point where they will not be coming & going out of our house & that's just fine with me.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Our house & property along with several of our neighbors got hit by a tornado last night. We have major structural  damage to our house as well as damage  to our shops. We are alive, shook up, freaked out, but alive. Nothing else matters.