September 15, 2013

Gone the Sun

We buried my father on September 11, 2013. 

The B-17 bomber pilot and WWII veteran was given full military honors:

a six gun salute (if you have small children, please cover their ears, they kindly requested...); the lonely, gut-wrenching sound of a distanced bugle playing Taps...and finally, the surreal, slow motion, ceremony of the folding of the flag draping the coffin.  

"On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation...

and especially on this day when so many Americans lost their lives...

it is my honor to present you with this flag."

The Oklahoma heat followed me to Indiana. It was 95 degrees with sweltering, high humidity. I kept wondering how these exacting young men, in full military regalia...managed to stay so crisp and composed , so precise.....no missteps or sweat on their brow.

Unlike the eight pall bearers, eight of his ten grandsons, who...

hot, grief-stricken and proud in their dark suits...lifted their sunglasses to wipe away equal parts sweat and tears...after carrying the heavy wooden casket up the slope to the gravesite (he did, after all, weigh a solid 200 pounds on his 6'3" frame just two days before he died, we reminded them.)

The brain is a wondrous thing.  Able to hold multiple images, disparate thoughts in its thought bubble. The practical and the heart broken.

"How could he possibly be gone?

Why do they only bring flowers in paper mache' containers to the gravesite...how did we get here,  from there,  in the last two weeks?

How could MY DAD possibly be gone?

Thank goodness we found the DD214 military discharge...the heat, the heartache, the end...

How could he possibly be gone?  

How tragic that all the white blooms...the hydrangeas, the lilies, the roses, the carnations, ...with the magnolia leaves and fern thoughtfully selected for the casket spray...should be so short-lived in the heat. Here one minute, bountiful and beautiful, complex and vibrant....


....adored... 

 and gone the next?





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