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Memorial Gardens Are Divine
By Earl Erickson

It all started out as a birthday gift for my wife, Bobbie. I bought her a real-size, painted, concrete bear. It looked so real. She loved it. Then I placed it in a circle and added a wooden, miniature windmill next to it. Then it looked so cool, we decided to plant roses around it. And last, but not least, I painted a big rock that was already there, and painted the words Bobbie's Mountain, in black lettering. I painted the background of the rock sky blue, and drew a picture of Mt. Rainier, in white. Afterwards, we named our property, Bobbie's Mountain.

After Bobbie passed away in 2001, from cancer, I made this spot a memorial garden. It was later moved to a temporary location, because it obstructed a path to my new driveway. Then when I moved in to my new home next door, I relocated everything over to my new front yard, minus the windmill, it decayed from rot, so I discarded it.

The thing I like the most about a memorial garden at home, is that it's always right there at your fingertips. No traveling to a cemetery all the time. This idea is especially nice if you live in the south Puget Sound area, and your family cemetery is in Gig Harbor, Washington, where there is a new $800 million toll bridge being built and the traffic is your worst nightmare.

However, having a memorial garden of your own shouldn't substitute a trip to the cemetery on important holidays. A personal memorial garden should be a private place to pray and think about your loved ones daily. It's not practical to visit a cemetery daily, unless you live close by. Even so, having it in your own yard is very special.

I think every person in this world should have a memorial garden in their yard or a simple arrangement in their home. Are there any reasons why you should not? Maybe one. If it keeps you from going to the cemetery when you should. A cemetery visit three times per year isn't going to kill you. I visit my wife, my mom and dad, my grandparents, my brothers and my aunt and uncles at the cemetery every Easter, Memorial Day and Christmas. That's the way I was raised. I understand some aren't able to, but if it's laziness--that's no excuse.

A loving tribute to a spouse, relative, friend or a pet can easily be set up in the home. It doesn't have to be a shrine. A simple plant surrounded by some photographs or mementos may be just fine. I think every person or pet deserves to be honored one way or another. It's a celebration of life.

If you have a yard, what a perfect reason to set up a memorial garden. It doesn't have to be fancy. A few plants and flowers and a simple home made memorial marker carved out of wood is perfect. It would be a great theme for the perfect country garden. Just imagine how it will make you feel.

Exchanging plants with another friend or member of the family, who also has a memorial garden, can be a lot of fun. Make a party out of it. Remember what your mom or dad liked or what they reminded you of--and add it to your garden.

If your dad reminded you of an outdoorsman, then adding things to your garden might be fishing gear, hunting gear, hiking gear or camping gear or all the above. If he was a sports lover, then golf, baseball, football, basketball, soccer or any other sport may be what you're looking for. If your dad was handy with tools, then make a memorial of him on your workbench and create a theme for your workshop, like-for instance, Harold's Workshop: "In Memory of my Dad," would fit in nicely off to the side or on a pegboard.

If your dad passed away and left you an old truck, hardly worth fixing, drill some big holes in the bottom of the truck bed for drainage, shovel a heaping pile of topsoil, then have fun planting a memorial garden on his old pickup truck, then create a theme for it.

If your mom reminds you of gardening, put her favorite tools in her garden and create a theme. When my mother passed away, and we sold her house, I gathered up most of her plants and flowers she loved and hauled them over to my house. Then I carved a heart--shaped out of wood, painted it pink, and in red lettering I put the words Amanda's Garden. It was really cool. I had a memorial garden in memory of my mom. It was so special, because now I could tend the garden where she left off and keep the living plants alive.

If your mom was an outstanding cook, and you really weren't the gardener she was or you didn't have a yard, create the memorial inside your home--in the kitchen, by hanging a plate to the wall that say the words--for instance, Dorothy's Kitchen: "In Memory of my Mom." Any engraving shop will fix you up. Place her favorite recipes out for others to see. If she loved to can pickles or preserves, and if you have any of her canned goods left over, proudly display them.

Now it's time for brother or sister. Think of the things that remind you of them, then make a memorial out of it. Your sister's busy cell phone or your brother's loud guitar or drums, make great additions to a memorial.

The list goes on and on, but I bet you get the idea. I got a little extravagant--but I wanted to include my wife, my mom and dad, and my aunt and uncle. I bought a 30 foot flagpole, added the birthday gift I had given my wife when she was living--a real size, painted, concrete bear. Then I had a granite marker, almost the size of a headstone in a cemetery, and I had engraved the following words on the marker, "In loving memory of my wife, Bobbie Jean, my yellow rose of Texas, who affectionately named this land, Bobbie's Mountain. And to my aunt and uncle, Edith and Vernon Thomson, who made my dream home come true. And to my parents, Amanda and Hank Erickson, who gave me life and love." Then I planted a couple Japanese maple trees, a couple hydrangeas and rhododendrons, some bear grass and yellow roses with a crawling ground cover. It looks beautiful and I'm always right there to enjoy it. It gives me peace and comfort.

I wanted to include my aunt and uncle in my memorial garden, because we were very close and they left me a very generous inheritance to build my new dream home. Now I have the best of both worlds in my memorial garden. I am honoring my wife, my parents and my aunt and uncle--all in one beautiful memorial garden.

Now it's your turn to get creative and find peace and tranquility in your life. After all, memorial gardens are divine.


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