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.
The 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.
But 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.