Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Bit of Happiness Comes Our Way

I'm jumping ahead in the "Sad Story" to share a bit of joy that came our way today during my mother's burial service at Arlington National Cemetery. My mother never wanted to talk about death or dying. But long ago she said to us that when she goes, she wants to be buried in a warm wood box. This cherry casket has warm written all over it, even today on this 30 degree (wind chill 20), overcast gray day. The bit of sun that burned through the clouds made it absolutely glow. The service was at 10 am and as we arrived at the grave site, the Netherlands Carillon rang its bells and a jet from National Airport just down the river flew overhead as if in salute. It wasn't a true military service since my mother was not in the service, but spouses of veteran's do receive military pall bearers.

Grave sites are assigned randomly by the cemetery office. By divine chance, my mother's was located next to the roadside, within walking distance of the main entrance gate - easy to find when we return. She lies under a Pin Oak tree and in view of her favorite tree, a magnolia - beautiful and green even in the middle of winter. It is a site we know she might have chosen for herself.

mom's magnoliaThe service was brief. The same Reverend, a WWII ex-POW, like my Dad, who presided over her memorial service, said prayers at her graveside. I felt so intrusive of my own family taking photos during the service, but nina said I would regret it later if I did not. She was right. It was the right thing to do. Looking at them now, I know it was the right thing. In the most personal ones, I captured the emotion and energy of the moment, the beauty of it too. It would be a shame if all we remembered was the sadness, the cold gray day.

flowers sent by Gerry Cornell's childrenBut the best part, the most redeeming aspect of this unwanted but inevitable occasion, is that my Mom is buried quite near her best friend, Gerry Cornell. My husband's uncle is there, as is my grandfather. After the service, Buddy went to the office to get the location of his uncle's grave. While there, he asked for Gerry's grave location. Section 39, Row 300. Mom is Section 39, Row 1300. They are even closer now than were the two houses they lived when they met back in Hillmead in the 1950s, two young renegade moms with wee ones.


Loretta said...

I think the photos are something I would never think of doing, but will think of now. What I remember from my father's burial the most is that the beautiful rosary made of rose buds had been thrown onto the grave and when we came back the next day, it was lying atop the dirt. I took it home and gave it to my mother and she still has it, along with the guestbook and all the cards.

I can't help but thinking how proud your mother must have been of you, Lesley, with all that you've accomplished: a loving marriage of a long duration, beautiful children and grandchildren, a business with your husband, your artistry, and your books. You gave your mother a daughter she could love and like there's no greater gift.

brenda bliss said...

I love your pictures--they show such peace and love..take care of yourself during this sad time.
brenda bliss

Oh! Bama said...

Beautiful and heartfelt imagery and commentary. Thank you, Lesley, for letting us grieve with you.

Hugs, Joycie

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad you were brave (and able)enough to take those photos, lesley. your family will thank you, i know they will. xo

suze said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Lesley. I lost my Mom suddenly,twenty years ago due to kidney failure.Kidney failure also took my oldest brother a few years prior to my Mom's passing. Last year it took my other brother.My sister has had her kidney (transplant)for 18 years and next month will be my third year with mine, given to me by my dear husband. Two other family members also suffered kidney failure. You really need to know if your Mom died from kidney failure so you can be aware that it can be hereditary.
Your pictures are beautiful.
xo suze

Anonymous said...

your mother died complete. she had you and family to love her. and that is all we need in life. she struggled here, but she lies in Jesus' arms and is at peace.
Blessings to you and your family.
i only hope to be loved as completely. you are special.
God Bless,

Cindy In Carolina said...

Yes you are strong and brave, for being able to take photos and write about the events that took place. I think it helps us readers to feel like we are there with you. Thank you for sharing these intimate things with us.

dogfaeriex5 said...

nina was absolutely right and what a beautiful place to be amongst.
thanking for sharing
take care

Elizabeth said...

Nina was sO right to have you take pictures!! they will comfort all of you> I went thru the entire DNR scenario for my own Dad and we also went to Hospice. It was heartwrenching eventhough my DAD and I were not on the best of terms. i look back on it now and know that it is what he would have wanted and that we did the very best that we could for him. that is all we can do as we become the parents of our childlike parents. Teh self doubts will pass. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and I think of how wonderful it was that you chose to take this year off from your artistic engagements- a wonderful gift that you gave to your Mom and Dad and kids and YOURSELF!!
take good care!