Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day: Ockey

David and Cappie Ockey at their 50th wedding anniversary.
Floyd Spencer Ockey (my grandpa) is third from the left in the back.
In the last year, we have become interested in family history. Rather than worrying about dates and death certificates, though, Nat and I have been collecting family histories. We enjoy reading these stories that put a name and face to those who came before us. Last year, I even gave a copy of all the histories (nearly 200 pages worth) I'd collected to my family members.  So this year we wanted to start a new tradition for Memorial Day.

Our plan was to choose 1 couple from each of our families, do some research and read some histories, and do a mini-memorial at their gravesite. We would invite anyone who might be interested, make it fun or meaningful in some way, and provide a treat. Honestly, we had no idea how it would turn out.

I was proud of how well our boys did in the cemetery.
They were respectful and had a great time.
I chose David Ockey and Mary Esther Goldsbrough, my dad's grandma and grandpa. I'd never met them (in fact, my Dad's dad died 6 years before I was born), and sadly, I couldn't have named them a year ago. I read through a lot of histories and really got to know them. I made a brief outline of their lives, contacted all my siblings, and copied a few black and white pictures. Along the way my dad and sister helped me obtain a beautiful picture of their family that we'd never seen before. Two new histories even popped up.

I wanted to do something fun for kids because I knew that there would be a bunch there (My sister with 12 kids was the most unwavering in her support of this project). I made a simple crossword puzzle with questions from my outline and got some pink mints, which were David Ockey's favorite, for a prize. Then we started baking cookies.

On Saturday, Natalie celebrated her relative, and people came out of the woodwork! Someone in her family posted it on Facebook and she had cousins show up that she hadn't seen since she was 7! After she had such a smashing success, I cranked my expectations down a notch and just hoped somebody would show up.
Even the adults worked on the crossword puzzles.
When Memorial Day arrived, we drove to the cemetery in Nephi where Dave and Cappie are buried. We got there almost exactly at 10am, later than I wanted, but not quite late. We had a great turnout-- over 25 people! I talked about Dave and Cappie, and even the super-historian in our family confessed to learning a thing or two and shared a few tidbits that she remembered as she is the oldest. Then my Dad spoke and told stories about his grandparents, who died when he was just a boy. Foolishly, I didn't think of recording him until it was too late. We ate cookies, talked for a few minutes, and headed off in our different directions (we hit 5 more cemeteries in Nephi, Moroni, Ephraim, Centerfield and Axtell). It was a great way to celebrate Memorial Day.

Seth considers headstones to be benches.

It was a pretty good turn out.
Many amazing things came out of this experience. First, I was glad for the family support. All of my siblings that live here in Utah had someone from their family attend our little memorial. It was fun to get together and listen to Dad talk about his grandparents. Second, it made Memorial Day meaningful in a way that it never has been (As a child, I drove to a bunch of graves of people I didn't know. As an adult, I got the yard in shape and didn't think about dead people.) I think the best thing to come out of the day, though, was the preparation I put into the day. It was fun and exciting to read and learn about these people. I know them in a way that didn't seem possible. And I think a little part of them is alive in me now. And best of all, our family is super-excited for next Memorial Day!

For my family: here are the memorial notes that I shared with you.

The boys took flowers to Grandma Ockey in Ephraim Cemetery.

Here they are with her memorial.

Seth is quite the cheeser with his frow-frows

This is in Centerfield with Grandma Benson.
We make it a point to clean each grave (mostly of bird poop) while we are there.
Baby wipes do the job.

Dax really pushed us to go down to Sanpete and see Grandma Ockey and Grandma Benson.
It wasn't part of the plan, but how can you say no when he asks?


  1. So neat!! The family history nerd in me is loving this!

  2. Thanks for the great time!


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