Sunday, May 29, 2011
Remembering on Memorial Day weekend, all of those loved ones who have fallen. Chris was in the Army when he died in 2002, but he didn't die in combat. He died of a heart attack. My father was in the Air Force but he died after he retired from the service. Derald was also in the Air Force, and he died at 51 of a heart attack. Heart disease took all three of the veterans in my immediate family, and the oldest of them was my father when he was only 62. It all seems to be so unfair, but fairness is not guaranteed anywhere in this world, it seems.
The people in the southern states who have seen their families, homes, livelihood all taken from them in a moment of time might be wondering why they were spared when their loved ones were not. I wonder that, too. Of course, the young mother in the picture no longer exists either. She is captured in an image on film that disintegrated years ago. It's only because my brother-in-law Pete scanned many family photos and put them into digital form that this picture exists at all. I have no memory of it and only saw it for the first time when visiting my sister this February after Pete's death. He and Derald were best friends and Derald must have shared that picture with him; a half century later it came into my life.
I have to admit to a little bit of envy when I read about the grandchildren my blogging friends share on their blogs, and even more of something akin to that emotion when a friend who is my age talks about going to visit her mother. How long my parents have been gone! Mama died in 1993 and Daddy in 1979. Although my siblings are all still here, and we all share the loss of our parents, I can see characteristics of my parents in them. But even more do I see them in the children of my siblings, so nothing is really lost. My nephew Peter will sometimes smile in a way that triggers a memory of my father. My sister will look at me over her glasses and I see my mother's expression on her face. Not having any grandchildren robs me of the experience of seeing Chris shining back at me through his children.
Even though he had no children, Chris was content with his life. I need to remember that and stop wishing for something that will never be. Yesterday I walked through the cemetery located adjacent to a local park, and flags were flying everywhere in one section. I realized that the cemetery has one place where all the veterans have been laid to rest. One of my walking companions told me she noticed that most of the cemeteries in our part of the country are segregated, with sections of veterans, Chinese, and Japanese all together. Much like they were in life, I guess. It never occurred to me but there it was.
Memories don't hold still, either. I realize when I read a book again that I read long ago... it's a new story, enjoyed today by another person than read it before. My memories are like that, too. Knowing how much my recollection is faulty when it comes to recalling past events, I have begun to think that might not be such a bad thing. I choose to remember my parents' best qualities, and I can look back on times gone by that are viewed through the lens of my love. Who cares whether they are factual or not? Certainly not me; I will remember my departed loved ones any way I please.
This reminds me how our life really does change when we concentrate on positive aspects. How different it would be if I chose to remember the pain and suffering that were also part of my past. The choice I have to make, every day, is to hold on to the beautiful memories and let the other ones drift lazily into nothingness.