Monday, November 11, 2013

Home of the Free because of the Brave

Happy Veteran's Day to all those who have served, are serving, and will serve.

The day after I last posted, my Grandpa passed away. He had a very rough two years prior to his passing so while it was a peaceful moment for him, it was hard for those of us left behind. The doctor had warned us that death from renal failure could be "tough to watch," as in the patient's body can swell up, they may be in pain, thrashing, etc. But for my Grandpa, it was the opposite. If you recall in my last post, I wrote about how he was too weak to even eat or drink so the doctors ordered that he did not have any food or beverages. After two and a half days of that, needless to say, he was starving. My mom finally caved and gave him a sandwich. He ate it and was happier than ever. Oddly, he had been very sleepy and listless on Thursday and Friday, and we didn't expect him to live through the night on either of those days. But on Saturday, the day he got to eat lunch, he was full of life and talkative. We were shocked...and thought he might be well enough to go back to the nursing home for his final days rather than staying in the hospital. Anyhow, my mother gave him the sandwich and after eating it, he fell asleep.  He never woke up. About two hours into his nap, he just stopped snoring. If he had to go, I can't think of a more peaceful way. He had a full belly (his favorite thing) and took a nap (his second favorite thing). No pain, no gasping for air, nothing but peace.

His wake was the following Tuesday, and I had a hard time with it. Everyone else around me seemed to be keeping their composure, but I just couldn't. I cried from the second we walked in until the second we walked out. It was so difficult because he only had two children; my mom and my uncle, and one grandchild, me. So we stood in the line by his casket and with each person that gave their condolences to me, I cried all over again. Then I spotted my daughter's preschool portrait on the mantle alongside my graduation photo and some pictures of my grandfather as a child, and I lost it. I didn't put the photo there. I was so honored that someone decided her picture should be included as well. She was also listed in his obituary, which meant the world to me. He would have wanted it that way. After all, while he only got to meet her once, he was still her great-grandfather and he loved that little girl to pieces.

The sky on the way to the funeral. I don't usually believe in "signs," but I sure felt like the sun rays were my Grandpa saying hello.
Beautiful ceremony.
I took a drive back to the cemetery yesterday to wish him an early Happy Veteran's Day. This was the sky on my way down the second time. More sun rays...hi, Grandpa. (Sorry about the very unsightly electrical wires. I was driving!) Right as I took the photo, a flock of birds came out of nowhere in the top center/left. Thought it looked pretty. 


Volunteers placed over 50,000 American Flags on each of the graves, as well as outlining the columbariums.

"And when he gets to heaven, Saint Peter he will tell, 'one more Marine reporting, sir. I've served my time in hell.'"

The Avenue of Flags on the way in to the cemetery

He was cremated and buried in the Massachusetts National Cemetery which was where he wanted to be laid to rest. He was a Sargent in the US Marines during the Korean War. You would never have known this for years and years...he was very modest about his time served. However, within the past two or three years, he became extremely proud. He had his Marines pins on all of his shirts, and he wore his "Korean War 60th Anniversary" hat every single day since going into the nursing home. We had the hat cremated with him. The service was absolutely beautiful and chilling. There were three active duty Marines present...two to hold the flag, and one to play the Taps. I was able to get a great photo of one of the Marines handing the folded flag to my uncle. I haven't looked at it since that day, I just can't yet. But I'm very happy to have it. It was a hard day, but an amazing tribute to him. After coming back home, I really sat down and thought about how the day of the funeral service was the same day that I went into labor three years ago. It put me in a bit of a funk, which I've yet to snap out of. But October and November are always a little tough. I navigate through those two months like I'm wading in quicksand. Hopefully one day, it'll get a little easier. Speaking of, I will post about her birthday later!

So, again, Happy Veteran's Day to those who were brave enough to risk and sacrifice their lives for the freedom of our country.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry to read of your grandfathers passing. Thank you for sharing you beautiful memories of him. So very happy he got to meet his great grand daughter. Many hugs to you