Sunday, May 29, 2016

What #Memorial Day Is About For Me by Karen Rose Smith



Memorial Day is just that--a day full of memories. It's a holiday that brings back pictures and vivid recollections.


My Dad
For my first few years, my parents and I lived in my grandfather's house with him and my aunt. In the living room  on a side table sat the induction photos of my dad and his brothers who were in the service. My uncle Johnny died in World War II. I remember studying those photos, not only when I lived there, but after my parents built a house next door and I ran in and out of my grandfather's house often. The sanctity of keeping those pictures on that table is something I will never forget.


These photos of my dad and my father-in-law hang on the wall in our house now.

My Father-In-Law

Another vivid memory is cutting irises and peonies with my mom and arranging them in Mason jars to take to the cemetery. My dad had a Country Squire station wagon and we would load up the back of it with the flowers. My aunt and grandmother accompanied us. The cemetery then was in an out-of-the-way location and I remember all the memorial stones were quite elaborate--from angels to five-foot-high tablets with inscriptions. After we arranged the flowers at each grave of a loved one who passed, we would say a prayer. Sacred times and sacred memories.

Memories of the Vietnam conflict are strong too. I lost classmates in that "war" and I'll never forget the lottery as my husband and I waited for the news of his number and whether or not we'd be able to marry sooner rather than later. One of my most moving moments was to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. when I was writing a book that contained some of our personal story. That Memorial is like a church and always brings tears.


Memorial Day also brings back memories of family get-togethers around the dining room table or in the backyard, weather permitting. The holiday was a family time. This Memorial Day weekend we will be hosting my BFF and her daughter and enjoying talk, laughs and cat stories with them.

Memories can be bittersweet but also filled with rich, deep meaning that's like a shield around my heart, reminding me always what's important, what's lasting and what matters most--the love of family and appreciation of the values I hold dear.

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Karen and Paddy
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 95th novel will be released in 2016.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens.  And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 

2 comments:

Deborah Blake said...

No one in my family ever served, but when I was in my 20's I dated a couple of guys who were older than me, both of whom had been in Vietnam. One especially, who had been a corpsman, used to wake up sweating and shaking from nightmares that never stopped. It made it very real to me.

I try never to forget what this "three day weekend" is all about.

Jacki Marunycz said...

Warm recollections of past Memorial Days with your family. My memories consist of only the women tending to the graves, never the men. My dad's mom, my mom, and my sis and I. Pails, scrub brush, geraniums. Enjoyed your blog entry!