You never know what will happen when you take young children–or their grandmother–to a memorial park

I returned to work this morning after more than ten days of holiday. I didn’t mind coming back in to the quiet of my office. Late December is so busy that a day of office work felt like an opportunity to get a little rest.

My mind kept returning to my granddaughters, Sophia and Karina, and wondering how they were doing with back-to- school. I’d enjoyed spending more time with them over the holiday and some of their funny little ways kept popping into my mind.

And then I thought of one of our outings that wasn’t intended to be a “day of fun,” but will stay with me forever because of both tender and comic moments.

A few days before Christmas Aimee suggested we accompany my mom to the memorial park where my mom’s mother and step-father are interred. She also wondered if we might invite Sophia and Karina to accompany us.

When Aimee was Sophia’s age, 8 years old, she experienced the sudden death of a friend, thrusting her into immediate conversation about death and burial. But Sophia and Karina, thankfully, haven’t had any experience with death within the family or with any close family acquaintance.

Aimee explained to the girls why we would like to go to the cemetery and asked them if they would want to come with us. There was a little curiosity about what we were going to “do” once there. It was explained that we would take Christmas poinsettias and just spend a few minutes remembering our loved ones. Aimee had a very close relationship with her great-grandmother, much like Sophia and Karina have with theirs.

They seemed to understand this, although Karina was very quiet, which is not her natural state.

But a quick story about Sophia.

She puts a lot of effort into making it very clear that she’s the older sister. She does her best to hide her fears and concerns and isn’t always ready to talk about what those fears might be. Recently she turned all her American Girl doll heads in the direction opposite her bed so that their eyes aren’t looking at her while she sleeps–No, she’s never seen an episode of the Twilight Zone.

I wasn’t at all surprised when she quietly voiced a concern about “walking on bones.”  I can almost anticipate how her imagination runs.


So on the Saturday before Christmas we packed the car with the five of us, four generations, with no plan except to pay a few moments of respect and remembrance with two beautiful poinsettias left for decoration.

As we drove into Rose Hills Memorial Park we received quite a surprise.

The photos aren’t too exciting, but seeing dozens of beautiful deer was very exciting. I wasn’t able to get a photo of the one lone buck with the gorgeous antlers, but Karina was immediately thrilled and excited to see “reindeer.”

My mom and the girls got out of the car ahead of me and began to walk up the slight hill and away from the car.

Aimee went to the back of the car to retrieve the poinsettias.

I stepped out of the car, took one step, and FELL in a hole! Within 10 seconds of leaving the car, I was DOWN!

Why am I always the one to find the hole?

And why does my family think this is just hysterical?

I looked up from my now seated position and Aimee is doubled over in laughter to the point of tears. Then I can hear laughter from two little girls. I don’t think my mother was laughing, to be fair to her.

Of course I’m not hurt, and it is pretty preposterous when you consider I’d only taken one step out of the car. I was laughing too, and hoped only the deer had witnessed my acrobatics.

By now, the girls are comfortable. The unexpected beauty of the deer had created a gentle transition.

And Nan provided the comic relief…AGAIN!

Just yesterday I was with the girls, and as we got out of the car, Karina quickly noted a very large depression in the sidewalk. She didn’t think twice before calling out, “Nan! Look out! There’s a big hole!”

Yep! When we think of our loved ones we remember so many things. Hopefully our memories are warm and can make us smile.

I already know what my granddaughters are going to remember about me!

“Nan! Look out for that hole!”


49 thoughts on “You never know what will happen when you take young children–or their grandmother–to a memorial park

    1. When Sophia and Karina laugh or tease about something I’ve done, I play my “old lady” card and tease them right back that one day they’ll be responsible for me. They will have Darwin to take care of as well. LOL!

  1. I’m getting ready to head back in to my first day back to work after nearly 2 weeks gone. So thank you for this little chuckle. I hope to find more chuckles on the way in, but I hope I don’t find any holes. 🙂

    1. That’s right, Andrew. It’s interesting that it’s some of the funny things my own grandmother did that we still talk about today. This one shared day will be a family story, I think.

  2. Yes, you will be remembered and with a smile, too. What more could one ask for? As we were leaving a favorite restaurant, a friend tried to warn us of a small, mini-step in the entryway. “Watch your step,” she said and then promptly tripped over it and tumbled out of the restaurant. We all continue to go there but now every one of us crosses that threshold wearing the broadest of smiles.
    Happy New Year, Debra.

    1. Your story makes me laugh, John. Your poor friend, but some of us do seem to achieve legendary status. I have so many stories of freak falls. I don’t know what it is about me, but I’m like a magnate. Many years ago I was just walking down the hall of our church, and a man opened a door that swung out into the hall, it hit me, and I went flying, breaking the plaster on the wall opposite the door. I wasn’t hurt, but I broke the wall enough it needed major repair. Every now and then someone will still remind me of this! It’s nice to know that I’ve provided so much humor for so many. LOL! Thank you for the new year wish, and I certainly hope the same for you, John.

  3. I love this! I too have similar memories of a trip to a memorial with my grandma, mom and aunt. A day that made us laugh a lot and definitely lightened the mood. Your granddaughters remind me a lot of Mr. N and Miss A. Mr. N turns one of his stuffed animals away! I can’t blame them. There is a reason they are the substance of horror films! 😉 Happy New Year Debra. Thank you for the memories this morning. 🙂

    1. You’re right, Kristy! I hadn’t thought about how stuffed animals and dolls are the stuff of horror films! How nice it is to hear that our stories and memories coincide so nicely, Kristy. Your memory of the experience with your mom, grandmother and aunt is special for me to hear, too. It reminds me that the moments of shared laughter really do stick in our memories, and that’s what I want for my granddaughters. Thank you for such a lovely comment, my friend.

  4. Beth Gramling

    Thank you Debra for your blog! You capture so much! More than the mere words!! And I am so glad you can fall down and not do anything more than entertain the others!! How sweet to see the deer!! I did not know they are there!! Lovely! I hope these rains nourish our dry earth and do not damage or hassle us much!! Much Love!! Beth

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. You are so kind, Beth. Thank you. There were easily 25 deer on those rolling hills, but the glare on my iPhone screen made photography difficult and the photo results were disappointing. There are signs all over Rose Hills warning about wildlife, but I sure have never seen any before this one time! It was very special!

  5. Oh, Debra, I AM giggling a bit. I’m sorry, but, you know of many of my own times falling down a hole (or into the heating duct and getting stuck while carpeting was being laid) and my very immature sense of humor.

    Are you and I the ones designated for all the rabbit holes of life? I still remember my own mother, falling into a heating duct (see what happens when you laugh at someone, especially your mother?). On a serious note, I do hope you are okay. These sudden jarring can really bring about aches and pains, not to mention twisted ankles and broken wrists.

    How exciting, especially for the girls, to see the deer, especially at the cemetery.

    Wow! Looks at all those American eyes. It looks as if a few action figures are also turned. That is something my Jennifer might have done. She and her friend once buried all of her dolls in the back yard, with only their heads showing. It was the oddest sight. It is interesting how some children seem to work their way through whatever is on their mind.

    1. Thank you for so sweetly asking if I was okay after my fall. Absolutely fine, Penny. It was a very soft, slow-motion fall, but honestly, I still don’t know how it happened, which is often the case. We are soul sisters, I think. LOL! I don’t know what it means that I’m so unaware of my surroundings that these trips and falls are frequent enough to gain me a reputation. Your reference to falling into heating ducts is absolutely priceless. I’m not even sure how one does that, my friend. Imagine what would happen if we wore the heels and shoes young women wear today? I think we’ve figured out our bones are strong, so that’s the upside of it all! 🙂

      Does Jennifer remember burying her dolls up to the necks? That’s just hilarious. I wonder if she could tell you now what she was thinking at the time. I like your observation that children work their way through things in their own ways. Sometimes it’s just very creative. 🙂 And I thought of you when the deer appeared, Penny. So unexpected! ox

      1. You know, I don’t think I’ve every actually asked Jennifer if she remembers. I will do that. I do remember that it was shortly after a “stranger danger” incident and the Jonestown massacre in Ghana. While we always tried to filter the news with our children, some of it always crept out. I can still see all these doll heads, from two little girls, poking up through the grass.
        It is a rate gift to be able to fall into a heating duct – and I got stuck! Poor Tom came in the front door to see the two carpet layers on their knees in front of me, me with one leg stuck up to my own knee. He had to crawl his way through the, well the crawl space underneath to find my foot and push it out.
        We are a kindred pair, my friend. Maybe it’s best that 2,000 miles separate us. 🙂

        1. The picture of you in the heating duct is worthy of a Lucy episode! Honestly, I can’t stop giggling! And if Jennifer has clear memories of her doll “incident” I’d love to hear what she recalls. You all would have been an amazingly strong reality show, don’t you think? Worthy of very high viewership ratings. LOL!

  6. I knew where this was headed as soon as you stuck your foot from the car. 🙂 Like you and Penny, I always find the holes, the uneven bits of sidewalk, or my own feet to trip me.

    I also love that you’re making these memories with the girls. And they’ll never forget this one. Between the deer and the fall, they’re certain to recall it forever.

    Like Aimee, I lost a friend when I was young. I’ve never, ever forgotten it. I hope the girls are spared for as long as possible.

    May you get enough rain without flooding or mud slides. I monitor your weather almost as obsessively as ours. You need water to seep in, not run off. Fingers crossed you get lots of seeping.

    1. Thank you for being so caring about our water situation, Andra. It rained all day today and HARD. It’s very true that after several days of this we’ll have different problems, perhaps, but it is so very welcome and at least for this week I’m just going to enjoy it.

      You made me laugh that you knew what was coming with my fall. I didn’t know that you had the same propensity! LOL! I swear this hole wasn’t associated with a sprinkler or anything in particular, and the grass had grown over it. There was absolutely no way I could have really seen it, but as already noted, no one else fell into it. 🙂 Aimee and I talked this morning about her little friend, Amy, who died from Leukemia when the girls were just 8. It was a long time ago, but I, too, think of her surprisingly often.

      But right now all is well, and I hope that 2016 is a peaceful and very healthy, accident-free year! No “trips, slips, or falls!” ox

    1. The poems are so moving, Jim. I didn’t lose a friend until I was almost 30 years old and I can’t even imagine how disorienting that would be for a young child. My daughter, however, lost two good friends before she graduated from high school, and the one, when she was only 8. We were talking about her friend just the other day. She told me how often she thinks of her friend, how she can still remember what it felt like in that church during the funeral and how vivid the “playback” is to her. Your poems are strong evidence of how you can spend your entire lifetime trying to reconcile memories that are painful and sad. Thank you so much for sharing these two poems with me.

  7. Considering how many times I’ve broken my foot, my husband always looks out for the holes for me. Happy that you didn’t get hurt and that the visit wasn’t disturbing for the girls.

    1. Another soul sister! I didn’t realize you’d broken your foot more than once! Oh my goodness…I’ve made a few trips to the emergency room thinking I’d broken something, but fortunately just bad sprains. I have quite the reputation, though. I said something about going outside the office to make a phone call and several people spoke up and reminded me not to walk while I was on the phone. 🙂

    1. It’s true that we should hope to be remembered for laughter and fun. It’s surprising that I’m not more self-conscious, but I’ve done so many embarrassing things over my whole lifetime (fallen or tripped on stage during performances; fallen off a piano bench in front of an audience…) so I long ago figured out these aren’t the worst things in life. My granddaughters even repeat stories they’ve heard about me from other people. Too bad there wasn’t youtube for me to immortalize some of my better moves. 🙂 I hope that 2016 is a very good year for you and your sweet family, Fiona. ox

  8. I was excited to hear a story about your granddaughters, Debra. Oh goody! Another “grandma” who will not mind my stories but then I will have the pleasure to read your stories.
    The dolls facing away from Sophia’s bed makes me think she may have seen a commercial for a film or someone told her a story about dolls? I actually scheduled a story about two of my seven grandies. It talks about the youngest girl in my son’s combination family. Each place in a family has expectations.
    I am called “Nana” and you are “Nan.” Smiles, Robin

    1. I think so far I’ve mostly enjoyed the beautiful pictures of your grandchildren, Robin, and you’re right! I never get tired of hearing family stories from others. I know what pleasure and delight these little ones bring to us. My neighbor and friend is a first-time grandmother, with a grandson less than a month old. She met me in the street the other day and was nearly levitating with joy. I just loved seeing that expression and knew what she was feeling. I’ll look forward to all the stories you share. 🙂

  9. A lovely story, Debra – that perfect mix of emotions that characterises family life and relationships. I’m glad only your pride was slightly dented by your tumble. 🙂

    1. I have always had a knack for finding the holes and falling in them, Perpetua! I’m glad that I can provide so much mirth to my little family band. And it turned out to be quite a special day after all. xx

    1. It really is laughable, Cristina. Of course, I am very thankful I wasn’t hurt. I can still see the look on my daughter’s face when she realized I wasn’t hurt and then just couldn’t stop laughing. I probably really did look ridiculous! I have done this kind of thing my whole life, so at least I know it isn’t age! LOL!

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