Welcome back, normal Memorial Day weekend

My brother Jay called from Columbus the other day, checking in to confirm that his “reservations” were in good standing at the Kiaski Hotel for the Memorial Day weekend.

I assured him the accommodations were in order and the amenities unmatchable, from the free food and beverages (I can count on not needing any Tupperware containers for leftovers when Jaybird flies in to town, tweet-tweet) to best of all, the company and conversation from his baby-girl sister/hostess, of course.

Months back, Jay had mentioned wanting to return to his Richmond roots, that he needed a Richmond fix.

Fittingly that’s happening this weekend when a small town makes a big deal about a somber, special day.

He had wanted to come home last Memorial Day, noting it had been years since he had been able to be around for Richmond’s parade and service, courtesy of working in the retail business and having to be on hand for Memorial Day weekend sales.

But despite retirement freeing him up for such a visit last year, 2020 came and went without the traditional May observance because of the pandemic precautions in place.

Thank goodness 2021 brings a return to some normalcy!

It was pretty odd last year not having the usual Memorial Day weekend festivities at the Kiaski Hotel where the burning question isn’t what are we having to eat, it’s where’s everyone supposed to sleep?

The Kiaski Hotel, a.k.a. Hout House homestead built in the late 1800s, is hardly of an open concept design so seating for eating is far more on my mind.

I always scold Better Half when we have a crowd in the kitchen and I catch him standing with his hands on his hips, a normal stance that’s OK under normal circumstances, but when there are clogged-room family get-togethers, there’s no room for protruding elbows so cut that out.

Where anyone’s head connects with a pillow or bodies recline for rest is an inquiry for later on, and one I answer with honesty and optimism. It’ll all work out, I assure.

And wherever that ultimately is, no one will have a grumbling stomach, barring any indigestion.

Last year I still decorated the house with patriotic buntings, and Better Half and I still went to Richmond Union Cemetery with the traditional haul of red geraniums to plant on mom and dad’s graves — mom’s tradition now ours.

And there was a flag on dad’s grave in tribute to his service in the Army during World War II.

But that’s as far as the tradition went last year with no family picnic or Richmond parade or the usual service at the cemetery or the breakfast at church.

To not have a public acknowledgment of Memorial Day just didn’t seem right to me as someone raised to appreciate and respect the day and publicly honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in exchange for the many freedoms I am ashamed to say I have often taken for granted.

I live within close proximity to highway markers in memory of two Richmond men — Denny McClelland and Carl Bernhart — who made that sacrifice, both of whom were killed during the Vietnam War.

They are among the many we remember today as well we should.


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