Sunday, April 23, 2017

In Memoriam

My stepfather-in-law passed away two years ago.  How time gets away from us.  His loss still stings, all the more as my wife and I live with his widow in their home of twenty-five years.  Every room, corner, even the eaves are a reminder of him.  I often expect to hear his voice at any moment.  It's impossible not to wonder how he, a highly articulate purveyor of the zeitgeist, would've reacted to the current political circus.

In April 2015, a beautifully performed ceremony was conducted at David's church of many years, Mary Immaculate.  Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication that prevented the Navy, in which David had served, from participating at that time.  Since then, my mother-in-law has been attempting to correct this, to put together a follow up, which finally occurred this past Easter weekend.  Three individuals, clad in naval whites, met at a park near Juno Beach Pier with David's remaining family (widow, sons, grandchildren, et al.) to perform a brief, yet moving tribute.

Two of the sailors performed the ritual of folding the American flag in thirteen steps, the meaning of which you can read about here

The third sailor played "Taps" on a muted ceremonial bugle.
The flag was presented to my MIL.  A stranger wandered over and asked me what was happening.  He was a veteran himself and quite appreciative of this tiny service.  He approached the sailors to thank them.  A few minutes later, we adjourned for the final act - dispersing some of David's ashes at sea per his wishes.  His widow had divided them up into twelve blue bags.
The remains had been in a large plastic bag housed within an urn.  His widow had kept it in the family room all this time. Comforting, in a way.  As she measured the remains, she noted their quality - not entirely fine but somewhat course, with pieces of bone.  I was fascinated by this, but it was also so very sad and grim.  This was our loved one, that dear man who provided so much love and wisdom in his seventy years.  It was only his earthly body, true, but even those with eternal hopes and assurances can't help but feel the poignancy of it all.

The plan was send him off at the beach, to wander into the surf and give the departed his eternal rest, but the winds were awfully high that morning.   The sons suggested we instead go to Sawfish Bay Park, a few miles away.  We stood on a small fishing pier and released our friend along the Jupiter Waterway.  Everyone, including David's young grandchildren, were quiet and reverent.  I had never participated in such an act before.  It was both solemn and jubilant.

A second ceremony, one which I could not attend, was performed a few days later at a military cemetery west of town.  The remainder of David Roy's ashes were placed in a wooden box constructed by one of his sons (both are carpenters) and placed in a three foot deep plot.  It was now complete.

See you later, fine sir. 

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