Families gather at cemetery to spend holiday moment with lost loved ones

Rory Cahill visited his parents. Donald Mettler visited his wife.

Cahill and Mettler spent part of Christmas in Lakewood, at Mountain View Cemetery, unwrapping memories.

Throughout the grounds, gravestones held poinsettias bright red in the morning light. Sprigs of holly stood sharp in bronze vases, and sprays of cedar and pine decorated marble memorials.

Rory Cahill said he arrived at 8:30 a.m.

His father, Roderick, died in 1999. Mother Jeanette passed three years ago.

Cahill sat wrapped in a parka and sleeping bag, a vase of orange roses and other fresh flowers cold at his feet. Flames of three candles flickered through glass.

“I took care of my mom after Dad died,” Cahill said.

He was at the cemetery, he said, “for appreciation. They gave me the gifts, the guidance. I tell them all of the things I couldn’t tell them before.”

He comes every Christmas. “It’s quiet here in the winter,” he said. “It’s kind of a ritual.”

Mettler of Lakewood stood visiting his wife, Marjorie Johnson-Mettler, who died last July.

“I come up quite often, every week or every other week,” he said.

For more than eight years they drove an 18-wheeler together. Along with their cocker spaniel, Magnum, they visited all the states but three, plus five Canadian provinces.

“I just talk to her about different things,” Mettler said. “I let her know what things are going on. I feel that she’s still around me.”

A good number of graves bore colorful bouquets, flags or candy canes. Some carried wreaths decked with juniper and fir, or soft red bows.

“It’s something my mother-in-law has been doing for many years, taking care of the family” said Wendell Yuen, who came to Mountain View with wife, sons, in-laws and a nephew.

“We come two or three times a year. Always on Christmas,” Yuen said.

Mark Cannon said he has come to the cemetery with his wife, Cheryl, every Christmas for the past 23 years. This year they visited his mother, Mildred, who died in 2011, and his father, Clyde. They visited Cheryl’s mother, Joann Stevens.

“We miss them,” Cheryl said.

Said Mark, “It’s the right thing to do.”