Saturday, September 13, 2014

Undated - A Poem to My Mother

While sifting through the folder looking for an appropriate poem for this week's posting, I found this one among the pile.  It was undated and hand-written on a 5x8 sheet of blue-lined yellow paper.  It had been folded into eighths (one horizontal and four vertical folds).
I do not think of you at all
Be it Summer, Spring or Fall

Neither Day nor Nighttime find
My need to bring your love to mind

No outside help need I recall
No-one, nothing. None at all

For you are my thoughts my very senses
My glowing dawn when day commences

You are the sunsets of of my days
Tomorrows, nows & yesterdays

You are me in all I do
You are me & I am you.
I picked this poem because it's just a short message from my Dad to my Mom.  No in-laws (wonderful as they are), no children, grandchildren (ditto and ditto).  Just a note from Dad to Mom.  A note just about them.  Together.

We buried the two of them this past Friday and they're now interred together at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.

Dad passed away in 2007 and was cremated a short time after. When we cleaned out her house a few years ago, after Mom went into assisted living, my wife and I brought his cremains back with us to Pittsburgh.  Mom passed February of this year and was also cremated. Their cremains had been side by side on a bookshelf in our home until a few days ago.

You can see both containers on the table in the photo above.  Dad's was the darker brown and Mom's was the redder.  A few times when I was with mom when she was still living at her house, I overheard her talking to Dad's cremains.  She said good morning and good evening at the appropriate times of the day.  I don't know if she said anything else, but I wouldn't be surprised if she did.  What I heard was very sweet and very sad at the same time.  I know she missed him terribly.

The service itself was quite moving.  My wife and I were there as were her parents, my friend Tony, who served as best man at my wedding, and my friend Joe, who played Taps for the funeral.  There was a Chaplain who said a few words (few of which I can remember), a color guard with flags, an honor guard to give the gun salute and two officers who unfolded and then refolded the American flag that's on the table.

The flag itself came from the VA on the occasion of my father's passing, as he had earned an Honorable Discharge from the Army for his service in the early 50s.  He was a tank commander stationed in Germany during the Korean War.  He later when on to get a college degree via the GI Bill, from NYU.  A few years later, he started writing love poems to the woman who would later become my Mom.

The folding of the flag was intensely interesting.  Two officers a few feet in front of me.  Both with white gloves and in full uniform.  A Lt Colonel to my right holding that part of the flag with the blue field of stars.  The field was to his left.  He and a Captain (the officer in the beret above) held the flag open tight and then folded it twice over, the stripes folded over the stars, so the blue field held by the Lt Colonel remained visible.  The Captain then folded by triangles has he moved towards the Lt  Colonel. By tradition they folded three of the spent shell casings from the salute into the flag.  I have the rest with no idea what to do with them.  They were still warm when they were handed to me.

There were lots of very slow salutes and I didn't think the service would hit me as much as it did.  But it did.  It was my final big responsibility to my parents.  All that's left is some minor paperwork and (of course) taxes.

But what's important is that my parents are now together as they had been on my book shelf, as they had been when Mom spoke to Dad's cremains, as they had been since they met in the late 50s.  And they'll be together as long as the Republic maintains the cemetery in Bridgeville, PA.

And that's all that's really matters.

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