Surviving Spouse Corner: A Month of Remembrance

Surviving Spouse Corner: A Month of Remembrance
Elva Hernandez, Suzy Maddox, and Paula Davis sit in front of Davis’ son’s gravesite in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery on May 29, 2017. All three women have sons buried in Section 60. (Photo by Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery)

May is a month with many special events and memories. For some, it means graduations or wedding showers. For gardeners, seedlings are fulfilling their promise; perennials are blooming; and the scent of lilacs and peonies enter the home as windows are finally opened. For children, it’s the promise of lazy summer days or the opening of the community pool. For schools, it’s the month of awards and scholarships. For the family, it’s the appreciation of mothers. My May memories are of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day traditions.


When I was young, we had a lovely tradition of women and girls wearing corsages and men wearing boutonnieres to church on Mother’s Day. In my family, we made our own. If you wore white flowers that meant your mother was dead. Colored flowers signified your mother was living. Nearly everyone wore flowers on Mother’s Day.


After church, we changed into our work clothes and went to the graveyards. We cleared away dead leaves and weeds, overturned the earth in front of the headstones, and planted flowers and watered them so they would be blooming when we came to visit the gravesites on Memorial Day.


[RELATED: The Gold Star: Remembering Our Fallen Servicemembers' Families]


Memorial Day usually meant a parade through town. Afterward, there was often a picnic. We always visited the graves of our loved ones and shared memories of them. Flags were placed at the gravestone of each veteran.


Today, still, there are many commemorative ceremonies. I usually go to the national cemetery where my husband and many of our friends are buried. The American flags are beautiful, lining every street and positioned at each headstone. The music is inspiring, and the speaker’s message is notable.


May is a month for remembering those we’ve lost. There is an atmosphere of sadness, patriotism, and pride. I’ve known sorrow, we all have, but I can’t imagine the grief of a Gold Star Mother in May. Remember her in your prayers on Mother’s Day and hold her in your heart on Memorial Day.


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About the Author

Pat Green
Pat Green

Pat Green is a member of MOAA's Surviving Spouse Advisory Council. She has been active and engaged member of MOAA for 15 years, serving in many leadership roles.