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Family Picnics

Today’s challenge for d’Verse Poets is to write a haibun about a picnic. I’m also sharing with Real Toads.

When my son was born, I felt like I was cheating him.  As a single mom, he only had half a family, and I set out to make sure it was at least a complete one.  Our family vacations were usually three generations–my mom, my son and me–traveling to discover more of our family.  We visited libraries and museums and cemeteries to research our family history.  The cemeteries were always the best.  My son would pretend a square squat stone was a piano and practice his fingerings.  He would take out his toy tractor and drive it, farming between the endless rows of headstones.  He could run and laugh with family rather than be shushed like at the libraries.  Then we would picnic with our deceased relatives.

a graveside sandwich
nourishing soul and spirit
connect to the past

I didn’t have an old picture with my son in it (at least not on my computer), so this is a selfie with my sister when we picnicked with my great-great grandparents last summer.


23 thoughts on “Family Picnics

  1. Theresa, kind of a tear jerker for me. Mrs. Jim have also visited with relatives, that’s us. For three years we have been taking our to-be-ten–in -July granddaughter with us. She remembers well, but no picnics at the graveyard. So far our picnics are before or after a visit.

    • KP attended her first funeral with on one of those visits. She knew but learned more of death. The next day she made Mrs. Jim a sympathy card for her grandmother.

      • I do think visiting cemeteries makes it much easier to deal with such losses. I’m glad you’re taking your granddaughter with you. She will appreciate that connection when she’s older.

  2. Ages ago, Victorian families would plan a cleaning up day for their cemetaries – food, children running everywhere, sitting by the stones. This reminds me of this. I do so love your taking your son to meet your relatives and explore your history. I think it was a grand idea.

  3. Oh …you gave me an idea of a picnic in the cemetery…to reconnect with our past and our relatives who have went ahead of us…this is truely beautiful..

  4. I so agree with what you say about being a single mum and making sure half a family is a complete one. I admire your exploration of family history and share your love of graveyards – they can be so interesting with the different styles of gravestones and inscriptions. In Highgate Cemetery in London, I’ve seen a headstone designed like a piano.

  5. Oh gosh….I love this idea of picnicking with our relatives of old. And most especially the scene you paint of your son having fun rounding through the headstones … We just returned from a month long journey in Japan, China and South Korea. Ancestors are revered by many….many have altars within their homes dedicated to ancestors…or they often visit graves or shrines to honor their ancestors and tell them about new babies, birthdays etc. Your idea of picnicking with our ancestors is wonderful!

  6. I don’t know where my relatives are buried, and my dad was cremated, but I like to walk through cemeteries. You may know that there was a movement in the 19th-century to build beautiful rural cemeteries where people did go to picnic, and visit relatives. So you’re following a long tradition. Laurel Hill is one in Philadelphia, and Mount Auburn in Cambridge, MA was the first. My daughter used to sometimes go there and eat her lunch and read when she lived in Cambridge.

  7. I have not thought of having a picnic in the cemetary. But good for you to have that family connections, even with deceased relatives. I love the haibun and your photo.

  8. thank you fro this lovely haibun, i was so caught up in the wonders that your son saw and the memories are so precious, am sure he did not feel cheated but so blessed to have a mum like you, making time to introduce him to such wonderful places.

  9. Our loved ones should be remembered and celebrated. I love how you manage that; it’s like you’re having annual wakes; kind of spiritual.

  10. How wonderful to give your son an appreciation of his roots. I’m sure the ancestors smiled on your time there.

  11. I love the fact that you can keep your family alive this way. I’m also impressed that you know where your family are all buried. I would struggle to find anyone past my grandparents. I’m glad you could make it a joyful experience for your son, too. After all, we’re all headed that way…

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