17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Tuesday, May 28, 1912: Had to stay out in the rain this afternoon and therefore got a little wet. Ruth and I went up to Oakes’ this evening.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Yesterday I was in the McEwensville area for reasons unrelated to the diary. On my way into town I passed the Watsontown Flea Market; and, on a whim, decided to stop to see if I could find any hundred-year-old issues of Ladies Home Journal.
No luck with the magazines, but a vender was selling red geraniums.
The geraniums reminded me of how my mother and I used to put red geraniums on the graves of deceased relatives for Memorial Day.
I haven’t put flowers on graves since I was a child; but–before I’d really thought things through–I’d purchased nine red geraniums.
I made a short detour to locate a shovel. I could only found a rusty old shovel, but I decided that it would work. It probably was the same one I’d once used with my mother to plant geraniums.
I then headed to the McEwensville Cemetery.
I began to plant flowers on the graves of my paternal grandparents (Helen–she’d dropped the “a” long before she died– and Raymond Swartz), maternal grandparents, and other relatives.
I rushed because I only had a few minutes before I was supposed to be elsewhere for lunch. But somehow it felt right.
It was humid and the temperatures were in the 80’s. I started to sweat—but thought—I can’t be late, I’ve got to get this done quickly.
The last grave I got to was my mother’s. I rapidly planted the last two geraniums as the sweat beaded up on my forehead. I thought, “I’m going to only be a couple minutes late.”
At that moment the sweat rolled off my forehead and into my eyes—and stinging tears caused by the sweat started flowing. I couldn’t see and I knew that I couldn’t drive.
I was going to be very late getting to lunch, but suddenly was grateful.
It was good to remember all of my ancestors who’d gone before me—my paternal and maternal grandparents, my mother . . .