Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? Yes, I know to remember and thank all the service men and women past and present. In my family that includes my father, a Navy man, who served in WWII and Vietnam in the Dental Corps. Aunt Dorothy served as a Nurse in the Korean War. I also have two brothers who served in the Marines and the Navy. So, I guess our family has a reason to celebrate and remember service to this country.
But, actually, when I was a kid Memorial Day meant the opening of Aunt Gert’s pool. Aunt Gert and Uncle George had a home in Bethpage on Long Island, N.Y. They had a big swimming pool party Memorial Day weekend to mark the opening of summer activities. I always remember the pool party when cousin Mary and I challenged each other to a marathon swim. At first no one paid any attention to us. When we got up to 50 laps and counting, the adults all grabbed another drink and started counting along with us. At 100 laps cousin Mary and I, with some adult advice and consent, decided to call it a tie and to call it quits. We both had the same stubborn Irish grandmother and might still be out there on Long Island in that pool today……..
One of the things I did today to mark Memorial Day was to visit this tombstone. “Connolly” the stone reads. And on the other side “John Connolly” and his wife are inscribed. My stubborn Irish grandmother was married to John Connolly, but she and her husband are buried in Queens, New York in the same plot as my mother, Mary and her sister, Rita. This tombstone that I visited today and said a few prayers in front of is located in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Cambridge N.Y. just down the road from the house I live in. What are the chances that the Connollys of Cambridge, N.Y. and the Connollys of Queens, N.Y. have something more in common than the same last name, the same state of birth, and the same stubborn Irish heritage? I think I will do some investigating.
Happy Memorial Day. Happy Start to your Summer. Grab a beer or a lemonade. Enjoy!!!