One flower was all I left because it was all I really needed to leave.
Life intervened and I was unable to make my cemetery visits in time for Memorial Day. My visit to graves was nearly a month late, but I’ve decided that the timing is not necessarily what’s really important. It’s the visit and the remembering that matters. Instead of leaving a larger decoration that needs to be removed later (which I’m not always able to do in time), I went with a single flower. These are always bought as locally as possible. It’s a good approach for those ancestral cemeteries where it may be only be possible to make one visit during my lifetime and one should always check restrictions on cemetery decorations before leaving them.
The larger decorations are more expensive and my budget is not unlimited. The flower won’t remain forever, but it will engage in self-disposal. Larger items that remain longer (which I use on my Mother’s grave) need be mowed around by maintenance staff and removed by someone at some point unless they get blown away and end up decorating an undesired location. Larger items are evidence to others that someone’s been to the grave. That evidence is no longer important to me, I’ve come to the conclusion that my visits to these ancestral stones are more for myself. I know I was there. That’s what matters.
Using a genealogical term incorrectly, I try and leave negative evidence that I was there. Grass clippings, dirt, etc. are gently brushed away in an environmentally safe way that respects the integrity of the stone and its mounting. This is easiest to do with more modern stones that are often set on a cement slab and where small piles gathered grass clippings eventually get wet and encourage biological activity. I’m always careful around older stones that may be on less secure mountings.
May they all rest in peace–with the occasional visit from their wayward descendant.