In many parts of the south, Decoration Day is a day in which those who are still living gather together at the cemetery to tidy up the grave sites of family members. This tradition is especially important in those small rural churchyards that don't employ groundskeepers.
Until my people (that is, people within whose arms I remember enjoying an embrace) lay in the isolated country cemetery, this customary maintenance of graves and grounds had always struck me as only a quaint and outdated practice of country people—something for old women in flowered dresses with rolled-down stockings and men wearing overalls and faded fedoras.
But while participating in this custom, I was reminded "not to forget my raising," and that I had come from what are considered to be country people, whether or not I chose to observe their customs. Consequently, throughout the day I carried along with my spade an awareness of my connections to those both in and above the ground.
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