The Easter lilies at the grave site of Ettore and Lola Lazzaro at Mount Calvary Cemetery are a thank you from their son and daughter-in-law.
Vincent Maciejewski’s widow left fresh carnations and daisies at his tombstone at Mount Calvary, so it looks nice when the rest of the family stops by.
And little Troy Lash, who is buried in the children’s section of the cemetery, got a visit Saturday from his mom, dad and younger brother, Timothy.
“This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience,” Troy’s father, Timm, said of his son’s death, “but if you believe what we believe, you know we’ll see him again.”
Little scenes like these will be played over and over today in cemeteries across the region, where families will pay respects to their dead with flowers and prayers on Easter, one of the most popular times of the year for graveside visits.
For many, Easter marks the beginning of the busy cemetery season, which continues on through to Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day.
But this holiday, in particular, draws people to the graves of their loved ones, based on the fundamental belief that Easter commemorates Jesus’ resurrection.
The day provides comfort and hope.
“Easter is when Christ rose from the dead,” said Ihor Gill of Depew. “So where I come from, we will all someday rise and face God. It gives me optimism about life after death.”
Gill is among the many who will find their way to Mount Calvary in Cheektowaga today.
That’s where he’ll visit the graves of his parents – father, Zenon, a psychiatrist, and mother, Wolodymyra, a nurse, who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s from Ukraine.
“I’m an only child, so I was very close to my parents,” Gill said. “They gave me everything.”
The grounds of Mount Calvary were neat and tidy on Saturday in preparation for the visitors, like Gill, who will stop through after Easter Mass or brunch.
Others began showing up on Saturday.
At the back of the cemetery, Timm and Karen Lash fussed over the flower pot on the grave of their son, Troy, who is buried next to two trees.
Troy was killed in March 2007 when a car rear-ended the family’s vehicle on Kensington Avenue in Cheektowaga. The boy was 4 years old.
He loved Easter and Spiderman and visiting his grandparents in Louisiana, and fortunately, the last thing Karen remembers about that day is kissing Troy hard when she picked him up from pre-school shortly before the crash.
“It’s going on seven years now, and I’m getting there,” Karen Lash said of her pain and grief. “The main thing is, I just lean on the Lord.”
Marilyn Maciejewski of Elma was also among those at Mount Calvary on Saturday neatening up the family plots.
Her parents and brother are buried here. So is her husband of 27 years, Vincent, a truck driver who died in 1991.
“Sometimes I just come and pray for them,” she said. “Other times, I’ll bring flowers.”
Just down the cemetery path, Edward and Linda Lazzaro of Williamsville had filled their vehicle with fresh flowers.
Edward’s parents, Ettore and Lola, are buried at Mount Calvary. Linda’s parents, Lawrence and Evelyn Caluori, are, too. So is Linda’s sister, Barbara, and Edward’s two brothers, Thomas and Frank.
The couple placed flowers at all of their graves.
“These are the times you make sure you get here,” said Edward Lazzaro, a former Buffalo teacher. “You think about them all the time, but it’s a significant time like Easter to make a gesture and remember what they did for you.”
Nearby, Paul Delano, trowel in hand, was hard at work clearing away the dirt and grass on his parents grave markers.
“That’s my brother Philip, he was a vet,” Delano said, pointing out a grave stone. “That one over this is my mom and dad. My nephew Bobby is buried up on the hill over there. He was 2 years old when he died.”
Delano, of Cheektowaga, may have been visiting Mount Calvary on the day before Easter, but he’s a regular.
“I come here and I talk to them when I have a problem,” Delano said, nodding in the direction of his parents’ graves. “I come and ask them for advice. It doesn’t hurt to have someone in heaven helping you.”