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A fresh coat of paint for the holiday

Published May 29. 2010 09:00AM

It's that big weekend that officially opens summer with picnics, parades and festivals as loved ones travel to be with their families to celebrate Memorial Day. While most of us view Memorial Day as a time to spend with loved ones, let's take a moment to remember what Memorial Day is.

Decoration Day started in 1868 when retired Major General John Logan led a parade of surviving Civil War soldiers to decorate the graves of their fallen comrades in remembrance. His now famous Logan's General Order designated the 30th of May as the day to remember our fallen veterans and to decorate their graves with flowers and appropriate symbols to observe their ultimate sacrifice for the union.

Fourteen years later in 1882, the name was officially changed to Memorial Day and the remembrance was expanded to include not only Civil War veterans but fallen comrades of other wars as well. The holiday became a public holiday in Northern States but it wasn't until 1971 when President Richard Nixon issued an order designating all public holidays that Memorial Day was set as the last Monday in May.

Many observe Memorial Day not only as a day to remember veterans but also to remember loved ones who have passed away. It is considered a day of reflection, but many also view it as the opening of summer vacation, a three-day weekend of relaxation and family time. However you choose to celebrate it, please remember our fallen veterans from all wars and their sacrifices made for our freedom.

Of course there are preparations for the picnics and parades that occur and in our house this past week it was no different. Looming in front of me since last year was a deck painting. Our deck was partially renovated last year so most of the floor and railing was new wood that we let age through the winter. Now the time had come to stain it as well as the original wood that remained on it.

Obviously I selected such a great time to do it. I looked at the calendar last week and realized this week was leading up to Memorial Day, so I said to Katie, "I suppose we should paint the deck soon." She answered, "How about next week so it is done for the holidays."

I answered that is fine as long as it doesn't rain and sure enough, we finally had a few days that it didn't rain this past week. Unfortunately, it was also 85 degrees or more on Wednesday and Thursday.

I decided on a different strategy for painting this time though. When we were painting the fence at the GAR Cemetery in preparation for the dedication service this morning at 10 a.m., Fred Johnson recommended we used painter's mitts which you dip in the paint and rub on the fence. I found out it works well on wooden railings also although it requires some touch up with paint.

Wednesday morning was the start of what was truly a hot day so I was up and painting with my dad and Katie by 8 a.m. and I relearned what I discovered years ago when I first painted the original deck, railings are a pain whether you use a mitt, brush, roller or dump the paint on them. They are tedious, frustrating and not at all soothing for me, but with the three of us painting what probably was a two day job was reduced to about four and a half hours.

I was very grateful to them and to my neighbor Jack who helped us move the fence so we could paint behind it easier.

What was cool about the morning though was my little girl, Kathryn who is always our little helper. She wanted to paint too, so when we bought our supplies the day before we bought her a brush of her very own. It was a little one inch brush we wanted to use for detail work, but she was all smiles from ear to ear to know she had a brush too.

When she woke up this morning she hurriedly dressed and came outside with mommy in tow. We used a latex stain so that we could clean up with soap and water.

Kathryn played with some toys initially and ate her breakfast at our picnic table under the patio umbrella. After she ate her cereal bar, she informed us she wanted to paint too.

After a quick primer from mommy, Kathryn was off and running. She did pretty good at first dipping the brush and swiping it on the bucket before applying her paint to the railing.

Of course, Mommy and Daddy followed her with their own brushes or mitts to help keep up with the unique paint swipes and even them out on the railings, but Kathryn had a blast while she was interested. Surprisingly to me, she lasted almost a half-hour painting alongside of us in her random artistic style.

I talked with Katie afterward while we were relaxing and I told her that it was pretty amazing my dad didn't say a word about his two and a half year old granddaughter painting herself and our deck. He would never have let my brother or me at the age of two paint anything let alone a deck.

I guess grandparenthood makes them softer. I think Katie and I looked at it more as a family activity and one that Kathryn may not remember without photos, but it was a day that I will cherish for a long time.

Til next time…

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