Day of the Dead

Arlington Cemetery Headstome

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.

 

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Part of the solution since 1973.

7 thoughts on “Day of the Dead

  1. Wow. Sounds moving and intense and all sorts of emotions at once for you and your family.

    This line really touched me: 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.

    And just now as I read this post and am commenting, Joni Mitchell came on Pandora. Just for you. oxox.

  2. Kylie, I’m sorry for the loss of your dad at such a young age. I was curious whether you had had a memorial for your dad at Arlington previously when he died, or was this the first time. Forgive me if it’s a stupid question. I’m not one to accept death very easily. My dad is the youngest of 12 in his family and so has seen so many of his siblings pass on. Otherwise, I haven’t dealt with it much myself. Last weekend, my son and I attended a memorial for a former teacher. So sad, but I’m glad I went. I think ceremonies do help in the grieving process. Without a ceremony, it somehow feels unfinished, so I’m glad your dad had a memorial in Arlington. It looks like quite an experience.

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