The church steeple against the summer sky.
The church steeple against the summer sky.

As I have mentioned, I live in what some would deem to be a small town.  My parents were from this town…and their parents.  Well, not actually.  My mom was from north of town at a community known as Tira.  And my dad was from west of town at a community known as Gafford Chapel.

In my area, the small community churches, outside of the city limits, hold annual homecomings for the families of those who are buried in the adjoining cemeteries.  These gatherings are generally held at the church on a Sunday morning followed by a potluck.

For homecoming, families gather, bring flowers to put on the graves, eat lunch together and talk about old times.

A flag holder denotes the war in which my dad served.
A flag holder denotes the war in which my dad served.

For the church service, usually there is singing and/or entertainment.  A local dignitary, historian, or someone form back in the day is asked to speak.

Last week, Tira held their annual homecoming, which, unfortunately, I missed.  Yesterday, Gafford Chapel held their gathering.  My sister, husband and I attended.  This is where my parents are buried and my dad’s parents, as well as many of my dad’s siblings.

My parents grave marker. My sister adds new flowers each homecoming, as well as on all major holidays.
My parents’ grave marker. My sister adds new flowers each homecoming, as well as on all major holidays.

What a wonderful tradition!  The cemetery association president presides over the proceedings.   There is a board that oversees the upkeep of the cemetery, the funds, and the annual homecoming.  A guest is invited to sing and another guest is invited to make a presentation.

This year was a special treat, as the speaker was a gentleman who grew up at Gafford Chapel and went to school at Cedar Grove, which was next door.  He told stories, which often ended with humorous commentary.  He mentioned my grandmother, who was his Sunday school teacher, as well as a story from school that involved my uncle getting slightly injured.

A beautiful, but humble, cross marks the location of someone's family member. It makes me think of the hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross."
A beautiful, but humble, cross marks the location of someone’s family member. It makes me think of the hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.”

The soloist was magnificent.  In particular, she sang, “He Walks With Me,” which reminded me of when my mom and aunt would sing that song at Tira homecoming or church.  I couldn’t help but cry due to the fond memories and missing those times with my family.

It was a wonderful day.  Some of us only see each other once a year,  but what a great reason to gather, pay respects to those who have gone before us and to celebrate our Lord and the blessings He has bestowed on our families.

The sanctuary of the small Methodist Church where my father grew-up and is now buried.
The sanctuary of the small Methodist Church where my father grew-up and is now buried.

Maybe everyone celebrates with these type gatherings, but if they don’t, they should.  This reminded me of what was important in life.  The sacrifices our parents and grandparents made for the comfortable lives we lead today.  And, of course, the many memories of the loved ones now buried in the cemetery.

I wish for each of you, an annual day, in a humble setting, to remember those you have lost and to relive the memories you have with them.  God Bless!

A small country church speaks to my heart.
A small country church speaks to my heart.

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