Reflections On Memorial Day

We didn’t have an article prepared for yesterday, since all of us were out playing. But my wife and I were having a discussion over breakfast about what Memorial Day really means. No, it’s not about stores having sales. And it’s not just about remembering fallen veterans either. Over time, it has became a day to remember those that have passed, regardless of their service. Both of my parents are buried in other states, making visits to their grave sites infrequent, at best. And my dad was pretty humble at his service in the National Guard, probably due to his opposition to violence as a means of conflict resolution. So that left me with the question – how can I properly honor their memory?

Last week, I led a short bicycle maintenance workshop for some Boy Scouts that were working towards their cycling merit badges. We went over basic maintenance, a pre-ride safety check, and did an inspection of each bicycle. One of them needed more than a little work, having been handed down from a rather careless owner.  We did a few minor adjustments, and I suggested that he bring it back over when we had more time to get it all sorted out. A promise was made that we would have it in running order for this week’s upcoming ride, as long as he brought it to me in time. But when he brought it over on Monday to have the wheels straightened, I realized that perhaps I had bit off more than I could true, so to speak. The front wheel was bent so badly that it seemed beyond hope. Not wanting to let my neighbor down, I went out to my shed, where I keep a decent supply of spares. As luck would have it, we found a front rim with a nearly new tire, and a tube that held air. (His was flat) After some careful work with my Park Tool spoke wrench, that wheel was within a few millimeters of spec. That also meant that the brakes could be adjusted properly, for the first time in years. Seeing my neighbor smile as he left on a smoothly running bicycle was very rewarding. And I can’t help but think that if my dad was around, he would have been proud to see me giving selflessly of my time (and coveted spares).

Not content with that, I thought about what I could do to honor my mother. Since 1996, I have planted flowers, almost always marigolds (her favorite) in her memory. Each fall, the seeds are saved and then replanted the following year. There’s something very satisfying about growing flowers from last year’s seeds, but this year, I wanted to do something extra. During the warmer months, we do plenty of landscaping, and save indoor remodeling for the winter. So I stopped by our local home improvement mega-store, and picked up some mulch, as well as a nice whitish pink rose bush. It has a new home in our front yard, and while I couldn’t tell you when the other dozen or so were planted, I’ll remember that this one was planted on Memorial Day, 2012. And with that, I have made the world a little bit brighter in memory of two very special people.

– Brian

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