Friday, June 11, 2010

Gardens of Stone

My father's marker is in. The lady called from the cemetery to let me know. When I stopped by to see it, I reckoned without the power of the tangible to bring back sorrow.

I know my father is not there under that headstone, and that he is much better off now than when he was old and ill and hanging onto his life. But I'm still mad at him for leaving me.

The Department of Veterans Affairs took care of all the details of the headstone and that is one of the reasons I'm sharing it with you. If you have a veteran in your family--even if they are long out of the service--the VA will pay for and have carved the marker. Your funeral director will have the paperwork, or you can call the VA toll free at 1-800=697-6947. They have both bronze and granite markers. I like the bronze ones better, but the mean lady at the cemetery said they don't "do bronze."

"Born of Freedom" was the motto of my father's last reserve unit, the 351st Civil Command, and I thought it was a fitting epitaph for him. He was born of freedom and risked his life to pass that privilege on to the rest of us.

What a legacy that is!

He served in both war and peace--remaining in the reserves and giving up a lot of weekends to make sure he was in training in case he and the others in his unit were needed again, in those scary Cold War days.

His country honored him for his service in life, with awards and a high rank. Now they have honored him in death. And though I viewed the marker through my tears I was proud to see it there. I thought I might come home and move the flag at the house from half staff back to full staff.

But I'm not ready to do that. Not just yet.

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