This past Wednesday, I made a quick trip back to my home town of Boston. Let me quickly apologize to my friends and family back in Massachusetts that I didn’t let you know of my plans. It was a last minute decision and I could only stay for several hours. I promise I’ll be back soon for a longer visit.
The objective of my trip was to visit the cemeteries where my parents, grandparents, several great-grandparents and other family members are buried and to say a memorial prayer at their graves. I usually plan such a trip each summer but I have started to question whether it really is necessary to do this each year and had considered not making the trip this year.
But, a few weeks ago, I started to feel a bit guilty. I had promised myself that I would continue the family tradition of visiting the cemeteries and in the midst of what has become a busy summer, I saw an open date on the calendar and made my plans to go back and forth from Michigan to Boston in one day.
I carefully planned my route: first to Melrose to visit my paternal grandfather’s grave, then to Woburn where my maternal grandmother’s parents and her brother are buried. Then, on to West Roxbury where my parents, maternal grandparents, paternal grandmother, two uncles and one aunt are buried. And, finally, to another part of West Roxbury to visit the grave of my paternal grandmother’s father which I had only recently discovered through the website findagrave.com.
It was a whirlwind trip made infinitely more complicated by the closing of the Sumner Tunnel which left traffic around the airport horrible (even for Boston). There was a long line to get my rental car and I had problems trying to figure out how to keep my cell phone charged even though I had brought every charger I had from home. It started to rain even though no rain was predicted and I began to seriously doubt whether this trip made any sense.
But, I finally made it to Melrose to visit Grandpa Dobrusin’s grave and thanks to Ellen’s long distance assistance, I was able to figure out the car charging situation. The rain let up and I was feeling better by the time I got to Woburn.
I visited my great-grandparents’ grave and then stopped at my great-uncle Meyer’s grave. That has a special meaning to me since my middle name is named for him.
Then, it was on to West Roxbury. By now, I was sure I had made the right decision to come on this journey and I spent some time at my parent’s, grandparents’ and uncles’ and aunts’ graves. I found myself “talking” to them much more than I usually do when I visit, remembering how my grandmother would talk to all of the deceased. It seemed silly when I was a kid. But, it does not seem silly in any way now.
I ended my visits at my father’s maternal grandfathers’ grave, seeing it for the first time.
From there, it was a quick detour to the house I grew up in Brighton. I walked around the outside of the house for a few minutes and then drove back to the airport, fighting the horrible traffic, returned the car and took the shuttle to the terminal.
I was very satisfied.
As I sat on the plane to return home, I started to think about the inevitable question: does it really make a difference to visit cemeteries and, in a larger sense, to continue to consider the relationship with our deceased loved ones. Would my day have been better spent in other ways, either in Boston or at home? Does anyone really care?
I tried to sleep on the plane but was unable to. So, I took out my phone and opened the app that I have which has a “scrabble”-like crossword game.
The app opened the game with a word and I looked at my rack of letters and a word jumped out at me: silky. I was surprised, to say the least, Silky was the name of our first dog and I smiled as I played the word.
The app then answered with its word instantaneously. The word was duke.
I nearly dropped the phone because Duke was the name of my mother’s childhood beloved dog whom she remembered with a smile and tears years and years later. I stared at the screen and was so shocked that even forgot to take a screen shot which I dearly wish I had.
I refuse to believe this was a coincidence. It is not the first time my mother has let me know she is still with us. (see: https://robdobrusin.com/a-bar-mitzvah-present-to-cherish-45-years-later/)
I was so glad I made the trip but it was also so good to know that it was appreciated in another place.