The idea of visiting yet another graveyard is a bit of a hard sell when you have a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old. I had thought about getting T-shirts made, like the rock bands’: “The Great Cemetery Tour—Summer ‘ 99.”
We live in a small community in northwest Saskatchewan. For our summer holidays, we traveled to the big city in Winnipeg. Did we take in the zoo, the art gallery or the theater? No, we went to Holy Family, Glen Eden and All Saints—cemeteries, that is.
Our ritual was simple: First, we’d find the grave site with a map from the cemetery office, stop for a prayer and a word of remembrance, and then move on to the next one. I shared stories about my friend John, who lived to be 103, and my cousin’s son Blair, who died at only 3 months. We stopped at cemeteries along rural Manitoba highways and in country churchyards. Our vacation album is full of names and dates etched in granite; my sons, Stephen and David, posed beside tombstones.
With my cousin Eugene, we visited a cemetery in Vesna, Saskatchewan. “This is where your great-great-grandparents are buried,” I told my children. Over the years, Eugene had taken his children to the cemetery, and he and one of his sons had spent days repainting the markers.
As my children grew restless, Eugene said, “It’s good to visit cemeteries. They remind us of where we’ve come from—and where we’re going.” I think I’ll get that printed on a T-shirt.
As for our next holiday, my kids are sold on a different idea. They’re hoping to go to Hawaii. After all, it had been their grandmother’s favorite place. They learned that from one of our cemetery trips.