Peonies not pennies!
My grandmothers and aunties had a tradition over Memorial Day week-end to visit civilian cemeteries to honor our dead relatives who never, in many cases, served in the armed forces. While many people spend the weekend boating at a local lake or beach (mine did too), we Haucks and Hovorkas always worked in time to prepare bouquets of sweet (look out for ants) red, pink and white peonies from our gardens. As a little girl, I called them pennies and didn’t know the correct spelling of the flowering bushes until I was an adult and saw it spelled correctly in a southern novel. We would place the peonies in plastic buckets filled with water and stow them in the trunk of our used cars and drive around black top and country roads finding the old family plots in graveyards with hollowed names like Greenwood (in Newton, KS) and Penwell-Gabel in (Topeka, KS). At Greenwood, this is the place where most of the Hauck graves can be found while at Penwell-Gabel there are many Hovorkas as well as my Dad, Mom and my dear brother Ed’s gravestones. In the town of Holton, KS there is a memorial gazebo in Rafters Park built in part as a tribute initially to my mother, Katie, but later to both my Dad and brother. It is a quiet and serene place to take a minute to reflect on the passage of time as well as a pretty, happy place to snap a graduation or prom picture or to take a selfie.
Our girls are planning a trip to Pennsylvania and New York to find out more of the history of our family. I am sure they will stop at a few cemeteries along the journey and hopefully there will be peonies from heaven for all our past ancestors that make up the Hauck-Horvorka-Marshall-Burns family tree.