I love walking through cemeteries, so Memorial Day and all that entails really makes me happy.
But there's more to Memorial Day than placing flowers on parents' graves or wandering around the cemetery looking for great-grandparents.
If you consider Memorial Day to be a day of memories, it certainly can come more than once a year, and I ran smack dab into it two weeks ago. At Village Inn, of all places.
Morning is not a good time for me, and I often spend too much awake time in bed on Sunday morning, leaving me only enough time to grab a granola bar on the way to church. That's what happened a few weeks back.
My husband likes breakfast out. I'm not fond of eggs, so a good solution seemed to be Village Inn, where I could get lunch any time. We're sitting there, and as I'm slugging down a Diet Coke, five women file toward the table next to us - Pat Estlund, Ruby Dencklau, Gladys Rossow, Beverly Michehl and Irene Dencklau.
A funny feeling tickled my heart, and my eyes nearly started to leak. They do that when I'm happy.
Here was an extra Memorial Day, all bright and cheerful and sitting right beside me.
Pat Estlund makes me happy just hearing her name. My mom's name was Pat. I remember the two of them together looking at flowers in Jo and Donnie Dencklau's gardens, and my eyes did leak when I looked at her. I pretended to sneeze so I could get my hands close to my eyes to wipe away the wet.
From the time I was old enough to think about such things, I considered Ruby Dencklau to be a queen - so tall and stately - and a name like my grandmother's birthstone. Ruby. Even the name is beautiful.
Gladys Rossow has so many memories in my heart, I see a big chunk of my life flash before my eyes when she's around. My family visited Gladys and Eldo at their farm southeast of Vincent often, and when I was maybe 10 years old, I noticed a picture framed and hanging on her piano room wall of a little girl sitting on a bench looking at a robin in a tree. I coveted that picture. Years later - and I mean a lot of years later - I found a copy of it at a flea market, and it's had a special place in my home ever since. I look at it every day, and every day I think of Gladys.
Beverly Michehl and her late husband, Delmar, were bowling buddies of my folks years ago. When my husband and I moved to Dodge, and he walked at the Crossroads Mall, Delmar was one of the first people he got to know. Beverly said the five friends often are joined by Diane Dencklau and Janet and Bob Kinne - really, anyone who wants to join them.
Irene Dencklau. Every time I see her, I think of her son, Kenny, who died after working late in the field when he wasn't more than 43 years old, give or take. I remember playing cards with him in my folks' kitchen and how much fun we had. And every time I see Irene, I remember the good times.
See, that's what Memorial Day really is about. Honoring those who have passed on, for sure, but also remembering with love in your heart all those who have added to your life in ways they likely don't even know.
It's just hard to eat a cheeseburger - OK, a double cheeseburger - with them sitting so close. Every time I opened my mouth to take a bite, happy tears rolled in. I darn near drowned.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org