Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day in a more personal key

In order to keep a promise made some weeks back, my lovely wife took three of our children to "Mummies of the World: The Exhibition" today, the last day it is Salt Lake City. In the meantime, the Snack (our 4 year-old son) and I made our way up to the Clinton City cemetery to pay tribute to my Dad.

Stephen R. Dodge was a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He was in the submarine service and did his duty as a crew member on-board the U.S.S. Blue Gill (S.S. 242) between the years 1956-1960. My Dad was always very proud of his honorable service to our nation.

I have to admit that I have always found it a little awkward to visit cemeteries, especially on Memorial Day when so many people are around. I find it awkward because I don't really know what to do. Usually I go on my own, during lunch, on a regular weekday, when I am almost always the only one in the cemetery. As we made our way across the cemetery I saw people doing all kinds of things. One family was sitting on a bench that was part of the memorial to their loved one. Another family, closer to my Dad's grave, brought lawn chairs and were sitting around the grave enjoying some beverages and visiting. It looked like they were going to be there for awhile. Frankly, I found this a little intimidating, again, because what does one do?

Snack on Memorial Day, remembering his Grandpa, my Dad

Snack and I went to my Dad's resting place and removed our hats. I had my son place the flowers we brought (one you can later retrieve and plant) on the upper left-hand side of the headstone so I could take his picture. Then we said a few prayers and just sat there for a few minutes. I asked Snack if he missed his Grandpa. He said he did and was glad Grandpa Al (my wife's Dad) was still alive. I am too.

Even after two and-a-half years, it's still weird think my Dad isn't around anymore. It also forces me to face my own mortality. Back in my early 20s I had a dream in which my Dad had died and I was at his viewing. It was so real and normal that it took me a few minutes after waking up to realize it hadn't happened. When it happened for real about 25 years later, it seemed like a dream and it still kind of does.

I'm grateful for my one-on-one time with my son. I love the simplicity of children. So, please excuse me, our time today isn't yet up.

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