I did a lot of thinking and preparation in trying to understand whether offering special readings for Samhuinn was the right thing. Dealing with my most recent ancestors was just part of it.
I suddenly took a notion. I showered and put on clean clothes. I gathered up some bread I'd baked, some spring water, some fruit juice and a poem I'd written, got in the truck and went. Finding the cemetery was easy but I had no idea where to find the grave. I remembered my father saying more than once that he didn't want to be buried on this dry, lonely and desolate hill. My cousin said there was a "simple stone, nothing fancy". Fortunately, it's a small place. I thought I would find it by instinct, but that didn't work, so I started methodically up and down the rows. I grew up in this tiny town. There were a lot of names I knew, quite a lot of people I knew as a child, too. I'd stop and try to picture them in my mind. The place was a bit overgrown and I was a little anxious about missing the stone. My socks got full of prickly tumbleweed thorns. I walked and walked, up and down the rows of the dead. Not another living soul was about, which suited me fine.
Finally, I turned a corner and there it was. Now what? I had planned a simple ritual in my mind. I said an informal hello and chatted briefly. I read my poem. There was no applause. I took out the bread, broke some off and put it near the stone - which turned out to be fairly substantial and "fancy" by my standards. I poured some juice into the quaich I'd brought with me, splashed some out, drank some, and again with the water. I ate some bread, too, and cast some to the four directions. I asked to be given more wisdom. I tried to think suitable thoughts. One stone, one grave, for the two of them. How did I feel about that? They didn't really get along too well, but they stayed together - so why not?
I hung around for awhile. The view was magnificent, in spite of my father's remarks. I knew that he would have preferred to have been buried next to his kin, back in the green, rolling hills of eastern Kansas. Would it have mattered? I had a little twinge of longing to go to that place and see it. I imagined the road trip that would be! Well, time to go. To be honest, I hadn't felt much. Maybe a little pompous at my own ritual. My family. It was what it was, and I've learned to appreciate it for the good and understand the not-so-good as best I can.
It was only as I was getting back near my car that I felt a bit emotional. Walking away was hard. Then I realised - walking away from a grave is nothing, when the person lives on in your thoughts.