Three years ago I wrote about the only long-standing Easter tradition in my immediate family — placing flowers at the Danbury Town Cemetery on graves in the area marked of for the Taylors. The headline back in March of 2018, “An Enduring Easter Tradition.”
Today I am happy to report that it still endures, even in this age of COVID-19 and staying at home. Last week my brother Spotswood visited a nearby plant nursery, mindful of social distancing, and bought several pots of geraniums, including a few for our Aunt Mary Moon Guerrant who could not make the annual trip from Charlotte to place the flowers herself. It continues a chain that for our small part of the Taylor family began in the 1960s after my grandfather died in 1962. I was born in 1959 and named for him but have no memory of “Grandpa Ed” at all. I was his first grandchild and Spotswood was his second. He would never know another one.
My memories of my grandfather revolve around Easter and my father’s insistence that flowers be placed on his father’s grave. He did so every year while still physically able. Early on he bought pots of red-blooming azaleas, which he would then haul to the Taylor family plot in the Danbury Town Cemetery. Taylor family members dating to the 1800s are buried there. My father did this because he felt he was supposed to. Family members before him did it. Grandma wanted him to do it. Ultimately he wanted his boys to do it, too. After Easter he often attempted to bring the pots back to our house on the hill just outside town and plant the azaleas. As time passed, he skipped the replanting.
After our dad died in 2008, my brother who lives less than five miles from the cemetery, has kept this tradition alive with assistance from Mary Moon. As I wrote three years ago, “The Danbury Town Cemetery hasn’t changed much over the years. There are a few more Taylors and Martins and Halls. My grandmother passed away in 2009, aunt Nancy Kate in 2016, and uncle Alan in 2017. They are all at the Danbury Town Cemetery.” On Saturday Spotswood placed a pot of geraniums on all of their graves as well as those of our dad, Grandpa Ed and our step-grandfather Stan Rodenbough.
Spotswood, who became the primary caregiver for our mother after her severe fall in August of 2019, also on Saturday took mom out for a ride to the cemetery so she could see the flowers on the Taylor graves. He then drove her to Walnut Cove so she could see the flowers placed on the graves of her mother and father in the Tuttle family plot at the Walnut Cove Cemetery. Mom doesn’t get out much. At age 88 she’s unsteady and fearful after her tumble last summer in which she suffered a broken shoulder.
When I spoke to mom on Sunday she told me how much she appreciated being able to visit the grave sites of loved ones and enjoy a spring day driving in the Stokes County countryside. My brother made sure to drive mom by some flowering dogwoods and blooming azaleas. As much as anything else she loved the memories.
As I wrote in 2018, “I know my mother worries about whether this tradition will continue after she’s gone. It’s the kind of thing a woman worries about at age (now 88). I can only tell her that we’ll find a way. It’s what we’re supposed to do.”
And in this pandemic Easter of 2020, my brother found a way.