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  • I picked weeds today.
    Great armfuls of stems loaded with fragrant purple blossoms. Almost more than I could carry. (My car smelled wonderful for miles.)

    I had gathered them from the Virginia land on which my late husband was born, where my gentle widowed mother-in-law, Frankie, raised her four boys.

    I scattered these flowers over their graves, sending my thoughts to each in turn. Then I took the last handful over the hill to the far, dark corner of the graveyard, to say thanks at the grave of my husband’s grandmother, Bettie. A very small stone, with no other stones of relatives nearby, commemorates the life of this woman (born 1866 – died 1903) who loved and was loved. She was probably scorned by her community, as she bore five children, most by other women’s’ husbands. After her early death, those children looked after each other, survived wars and the great depression, loved, raised families in Virginia, and served God and country.

    Bettie was the first child of ten. Her parents married just as soon as her wounded father was released from a Union POW camp at war's end, and made his way back home from Illinois. He returned to a land and family that had lost absolutely everything. I have to imagine that the new baby Bettie was a great joy, a promise of life to that Grayson County girl who had waited in fear, hope, and desperation for her beloved to return home.

    It’s Memorial Day, and this Yankee honors the generations of Virginia men who served, and women who loved and waited.
    Yes, I picked “weeds” today. Beautiful, wild blossoms from the Virginia countryside. They remind me of Bettie.
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