This past Sunday marked a milestone for my family. It has been 30 years since my father passed away. I guess you could say he "won" his battle with cancer in the ultimate healing. I was only 5 at the time, but I'll NEVER forget the flag ceremony at the end of the funeral (my Daddy was a Marine Sergeant who died from complications of a brain tumor, no doubt resulting from work in his line of duty). To this day, I still have a soft spot for veterans and active servicemen.
The few memories I have of my father are still quite vivid, for I've replayed them in my mind over and over and over throughout the years. My younger brother had just turned two a few weeks before Memorial Day that year, so he has no memories, only photos and a few stories. There isn't much to speak of regarding Dad's extended family (adoption and other situations limiting that) so memories of his childhood are non-existent for us. So, to commemorate this year, I relied on social networking (FB) and asked friends who knew him way back when to fill us in on any details, stories, glimpses into our Dad's life. It was WONDERFUL to get back several responses. Sunday morning, my brother and Mom and I sat down to breakfast together and I shared those stories. It opened up opportunities to hear some things from my Mom that she might have otherwise not thought of sharing.
Memorial Day is special to me, because I'll NEVER forget. Perhaps you've lost someone special and close in your life. Maybe someone special in your life has lost someone. Don't be afraid of memories. Don't be afraid to explore them. Don't be afraid to share them. Most of our older adult friends have no idea what their little memories of our father mean to my brother and me. "You look just like him." "You have his eyes." "You walk like him." "He was so kind and a gentleman." "Your father was a good man." Those simple phrases - they mean a world to some people! They let you know a life mattered and didn't go unnoticed. And for children who may not have rich memories on their own, it helps with healing, with putting "pieces together", and with helping to "never forget". That can be a fear on its on - forgetting. "What if I can't remember a smell, a voice, a laugh, a touch?!" Stories from friends and loved ones aid in keeping the memory close to the surface in a good way.
As I've posted before, May through September can be a special time for patriots - Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July (my Daddy's FAVORITE!), Veteran's Day. Don't let it all "jumble together". Go to a ceremony. Visit the grave of a fallen veteran and reminisce. Drive down a Main Street and see the flags. Go to a parade. Celebrate your liberties. Buy a meal for a veteran. Send poppies. Make some Americana crafts. Share stories, listen to stories of veterans.
Make the most of all of it this summer! May it be a Red, White, and Blue one!