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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Stroo Cousins' Reunion and My Parents' Grave Sites

Yesterday, I woke up and felt energetic so I decided to join my cousins in Hudsonville, Michigan for a potluck lunch.  I put together a corn salad, bought some deli meats and cheese and headed north--a two hour drive to Hager Park.

There were nine cousins there and two spouses.   The cousins from Ontario and Texas were in the area and that gave us a reason to try to get together. Two cousins live in Washington and Florida and that was too far to come!  Two other cousins are caretakers for their spouses and were not there. I don't know about the other four.   It is pretty amazing that all 17 of us are alive and even reasonably healthy.   In some ways it is even more amazing, because the Stroo siblings, our parents,  almost all died at an early age.  My own mother died at age 59. Several spouses have died--two in the last year and a half.

There was lots of talking and laughter and lots of good food.  Leo had a camera, tripod, and timer so he took a few photos.  Jim had a never-used selfie stick in the car, so I encouraged him to get it out so I could give it a try.  It was a pretty funny scene--all of us seniors attempting a selfie!  You can see by the results that I was intensely concentrating on getting us all in and pressing the button and it never occured to me to smile!

There were questions to which there never will be answers.  How did Uncle Dan have a combat medal found in his possession after he died when he said he never was in direct combat?  Was he in the Battle of the Bulge?  Did Aunt Mattie ever harbor refugees in her basement in the Netherlands during WWII as some of us had heard?   So much we could have asked, but didn't.

There were also Dutch expressions I haven't heard for years--and for which we could not give English equivalents.  Can I dare to try to spell these?  Banout, rummel, sanukking, feise.  Maybe they are not even classical Dutch and are just "Yankee Dutch." (correction for two of them--"vies" defined as "dirty" and "Banauwd" defined as "stuffy"--neither definition really gets the full meaning!)

There was no political talk and that was best avoided.   I am quite sure that we have some very real differences of opinion on our present situation.  Sometimes I really want to have forthright discussions but that was not the time or place.

After our hugs and good-byes, I drove to the Georgetown Cemetery about a mile away to pay my respects at my parents' graves.   I could not find them.  My sister said she had been unable to find them earlier. I find the  idea of cremation for myself and for Jim a difficult and uncomfortable idea, but why should the money be spent and the land used for burial when even those closest to you cannot find your grave years later?  And for us, there would be no central place where anyone would come to find such a grave.  We might as well be cremated.  I did say to Jim tonight I hope that our ashes can be combined if we're not buried side by side.  Morbid?  It made me feel better.

Today, however, after some online searching, I think I could find those tombstones for my parents--among the more than 7000 at Georgetown Cemetery.  Next time I'll take a photo and at least preserve their memory in that way.  (242-E 1 and E2)

I am so glad I made the effort to make the trip.  It was good to see everyone at something other than a funeral--and sadly, there have to be more of those in the next several years.


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