A Poppy for Remembering

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 1:24 AM | 9 comments »

When I was a little girl, my grandmother always made a big deal out of observing Memorial Day. She'd wear one of those little red poppies on her dress. When I'd ask her about it, she'd say "A Poppy for Remembering."

Being a child, I was satisfied with that answer. It wasn't until much later that I learned the significance of Memorial Day. I think it might have been during or maybe shortly after the Vietnam War that I felt the intense emotion that rises in American Hearts when the flags are placed and parades held.

Still, I had forgotten all about Grandmother's little red poppy. Years passed and I grew into a teenager and then an adult. The little poppy was a long forgotten memory. As a teenager I learned that my grandmother had been a widow, her first husband was killed in France during World War I. The only way I learned of this was by finding his picture in his uniform and a picture of a grave site. When I asked, she told me of his death, took the scrapbook away and never mentioned it again.

Years later, when my grandmother was hospitalized near death, I sat by her bedside night and day. I awoke in the middle of the night to hear my eighty-six year old grandmother speaking French. When I asked her about it, she said she just happened to remember those phrases. In my entire life, I'd never heard her speak a word of French. When I asked her about it that morning she told me her first husband taught her the phrases when he was home on leave.

My grandmother passed away a couple days later and when we went through her things I found the old scrapbook with the pictures of her first husband and his grave site. Tucked between the pages was the little red poppy.http://www.cal-mum.com/poppy.html


  1. Anonymous // May 27, 2012 at 1:38 AM  

    Brings back memories of my Mama Ringer.

  2. Mary Marvella // May 27, 2012 at 2:07 AM  

    So many of the traditions fade. We must do out best to remind out kids about them.

  3. Scarlet Pumpernickel // May 27, 2012 at 2:13 AM  

    The Poppy story is very touching. I'll always believe my grandmother's first husband came for her that night.

  4. Mary Marvella // May 27, 2012 at 3:13 AM  

    I'm with you! A sweet story! Sometimes you gotta believe.

  5. Mary Ricksen // May 27, 2012 at 5:16 PM  

    What a beautiful memory...
    She should have shared it all with you.

  6. Josie // May 27, 2012 at 5:34 PM  

    I'd never heard of the red poppy for Memorial day. Beautiful story.

  7. Scarlet Pumpernickel // May 27, 2012 at 8:37 PM  

    Mary R, it was only as an adult that I truly began to understand what that little poppy represented to my grandmother. Her second husband was my grandfather, but I suspect he was not the great love of her life. That man, my heart tells me, lay buried in France. But as with so many other widows of WWI and WWII, life had to go on. She remarried, had a child and lived out her life. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, but I suspect there was another side to this lady that I barely glimpsed.
    The side that remembered scraps of French phrases taught to her by the young man who fought in the war to end all wars.

  8. Scarlet Pumpernickel // May 27, 2012 at 8:38 PM  

    Josie, I am glad you were able to read the entire story of the Memorial Day Poppy.

  9. Nightingale // May 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM  

    I remember those poppies. This is a very sweet story, and I know a very poignant memory for you.