Memorial Day for Horses

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In my family, we consider Memorial Day to be a serious holiday. With our own corner of hallowed ground--a family cemetery that's existed for over 100 years--we view Memorial Day as a time for reconnecting with the family members who've departed from earthly life. We get together, spruce up the grounds, polish the headstones, plant flowers, reminisce, and stand at attention for a short ceremony and gun salute conducted by members of the local American Legion chapter. Afterward, we share treats and more memories around what used to be Grandma's kitchen table, before she took her own place in the cemetery.

This Memorial Day weekend, I'm planning to do something similar at the pasture spot that's become our ranch's horse cemetery. Ace and Najah reside there now, and I can't think of a better time to honor their memory. Najah's grave is fresh enough to have exposed topsoil, so I bought some Kentucky bluegrass seed that I'll ceremoniously sow and water. I won't go so far as to put up headstones, but I will get their nameplate halters back out and hang them on the nearby fence for the day. I'll pick an armload of flowers to place into one of those fence-hung feeders, doubling for the day as a makeshift vase. And I'll bring each horse an honorary sample of his favorite treat--some Classic Coke, which Ace adored, and a shiny red apple for Najah.

I'll have to do without a gun salute by the American Legion--no sense spooking the horses that're still with us. But I'll have a few extra treats on hand, just in case they mosey over to pay their own respects to the departed.