Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Services

I'm home again, after a very emotional week in Colorado. My mom and two sisters had taken care of a lot of the arrangements before my two brothers and I made it home. Such a difference from when my in-laws passed. Aries' family is so different from mine - they observed no services, no family get-togethers, nothing.

My family is different. We all needed to be together. There were lots of hugs and tears but it was a healing experience too. One sister had a birthday that week, so we all went out to dinner to her favorite Mexican food place one night. Everybody got into a cribbage game or two, childhood friends dropped by, we took turns checking our email on one brother's laptop, cooked and ate family dinners together. I put together a couple of collage displays for the services from the photos Mom liked best. We three sisters went to a yoga class. We watched another brother's favorite DVD movie. Dad would have loved having the whole family together there (darn, now I'm making myself tear up again).

The memorial service was very nice. Dad was a Mason, so the Masonic Lodge did their formal ceremony. The man leading the opening prayer got so choked up he couldn't finish and I was afraid he was going to collapse on the spot, but another Lodge brother got up and took over. It was very touching. The funeral home had put together a nice video display, my sister's childhood friend sang, the pastor read the obituary my sister wrote, and afterwards there was a luncheon reception with food brought by all Mom's friends.

Dad was WWII Army veteran, having served in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy and the Aleutian Islands. After the service and reception, we had a family-only, full military honors ceremony at Fort Logan Cemetery. Taps was played, and the flag unfurled and refolded and presented to Mom. Half of Dad's ashes, wrapped in his Mason's apron, will be interred there.

The next day, we drove up into the Rocky Mountains to one of Mom and Dad's favorite fishing and camping spots. We chose a high little point overlooking the lake, where a few early wildflowers were already in bloom and a couple of small butterflies flitted, even though a snowbank still lingered down by the road. There we scattered the rest of his ashes, along with some wildflower seeds and our silent goodbyes. Amazingly, a hummingbird perched on a nearby branch to watch. It was all sad and bittersweet and really a lot of planning and ritual, but then too brought a necessary and comforting sense of closure.

So now I'm home, sleeping once more in my own bed. I've got a garden to plant (although it snowed for a bit here yesterday), a campaign to plan, baby chicks out in the dog run, a new dog in the house (more on that later), and with the official Memorial Day start of the tourist season, work assignments starting to come in. Life goes on.


Sharon said...

So sorry for your loss. My dad also served in the Aleutian Islands during WWII and won the Bronze Star. He died in 1980, and I still miss him.

Carla said...

Sadge -
It was good for all of your family to be together for the week. And it is also good for you to be back home, where you can draw strength from your land, from being in your own home. It's a cliche, but time will help to round the edges of your hurt. (My father died in 1995 but there are times when I still miss him so much, I ache.) I'm sending you a large mental hug right now.
Carla in Idaho

Ciara said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. My thoughts are with you & your family.

It was so nice that you could all be together.