It’s Dia de los Muertos, November 2nd
So, it’s fitting, somehow, that just last Monday my family was in Washington, D.C., to hold a memorial for my father at Arlington Cemetery.
I’m the oldest of five, so I probably have the strongest memories of the actual funeral, back in 1984.
I was also the only kid present at a family camping trip at Wallowa Lake where my mom distributed his ashes, about ten years ago. She put them in a box with pancakes and clippings of his favorite things which gave me an opportunity for an impromptu speech about the “sacred and the mundane.”
When you’ve experienced death early and often like I have, then you get to know it as a friend, a constant companion, someone you can joke around with, even.
I hope this memorial service filled a gap for my brothers and sisters. I know it did for my daughter–she feels things deeply, and works herself into tears about once a week about how she misses my dad. She cried during the service, and I’m glad she’ll have the memory.
Here are some photos my sister took of the service. It was just like you’ve seen in the movies: a full military marching band, color guard, horse-drawn caisson, complete with guns going off. My son has now added bayonets over the shoulder to his arsenal of play-weapons.
I have mixed feelings about how these ceremonies function to maintain a military society, but I’ll save those thoughts for another post.
You can read more about the life and death of my father in my post, When You Were My Age.