Closure, Dad is now in his final resting place after an emotional ceremony honoring his service to God, his family and our country. He served in WWII and Korea as a US Marine and earned medals so he was entitled to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, which we did yesterday. The Marine honor guard is amazing, their precision and respect is something to behold, especially when you are the recipient of their ministry (if you can call it that). We had a brief Mass for Dad at the chapel then a ceremony at the gravesite with the official flag folding, rifle salute, bugle playing taps and the presentation of the flag to Mom. The rain held off until it was over then the sky opened up and we had a huge downpour with lightning and thunder. I can’t explain it; I have been a pacifist all my life and although I have always been proud of my Dad’s service to our country (it all happened before I was born and he didn’t talk about it other than to express the pride he felt to have been a Marine) I am relieved and comforted to know that his grave is here among all those he was so proud to serve with. Why is this not in conflict with my strong antiwar feelings? Why am I comforted that he is buried here, yet am so upset with the recent war situation? I don’t know; it’s complicated, and if I have learned nothing else as I age, I have learned that things are rarely clear in the moment. Clarity comes with reflection and the passage of time.
Funerals are a wonderful family gathering time as well, and we had a delightful weekend visiting with brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We celebrated a 7-year old cousin’s birthday (which I knew about), and a 50-year old aunt’s birthday (which I didn’t know about). The family surprised me with a birthday cake a big balloon and a gift too! The gift was a caricature artist to draw each of us during our afternoon picnic at the park. You know, just like those people you see down at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco that you stop and watch for a while and marvel at how well they capture people in about 6 minutes. It was very cool, and the kids were thrilled to sit for him, even the young ones could sit still for 6 minutes! We all enjoyed the the time together even though it meant saying goodbye to Dad. He would have loved the weekend.
Now I am trying to catch up on my reading for class tomorrow on the long plane ride home. It will be late when we get home and 6 AM will come way too soon. No time to reflect….