For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NIV
Over the years, Memorial Day is a holiday that has developed priority in my life. It is a reminder of those veterans who put their life on the line for us, as well as those who have survived the soldiers that did not make it. War became real to me during the 911 bombings and over the years under Bush's reign. Above all else, this holiday really makes me think about my sweet Grandfather ...
My Grandfather is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Army. I watched him raise the flag each day, on his porch, every time I visited his home. I could rest assured that it was there even when I was not with him and would see it waving as I passed by in my car. We always had picnics on Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays. My Grandfather volunteered at the Veterans Association (VA), was honored numerous times in the community and participated in local or coastal parades each Memorial Day, Veterans Day and spoke whenever invited until this year. I should have known better while growing up, but I did not realize how close to home Memorial Day hit until I grew older. Many say Happy Memorial Day, though I am not so sure how "happy" of an occasion it is for those missing loved ones and friends.
As my Grandfather approached his 70s, my awareness of his feelings about Memorial Day increased. In fact, he had lost most of his friends and loved ones by the time he turned 70 years old. Now that he is 89, he often mentions that he has survived all of his friends, 4 of his 5 siblings, and lost his oldest son in a car accident before I was born (my uncle drove off the road while attempting to return home to his family from the army). I still can not imagine missing my friends and family for so many years, none-the-less my child.
Sometimes I call him and we discuss his military career; sometimes we discuss my family and other times we discuss old friends and family that have passed on. One thing we do not talk about is whether he has killed or how many people he has seen die over the course of his military service. We do reminisce about when he went into the army, his being a buffalo soldier, the fact that he has been honored more times than he has wall space for plaques, that he made it further than many would expect a black man of his generation and retired from a career of service to our country. LOL, sometimes we talk about their most recent shop at the PX or, on a more serious note, what the VA had to say at his last check up.
The other day we discussed his disinterest in traveling to attend this years Memorial Day parade. He normally rides in the parade float as one of the oldest representatives on the east coast. His body just did not feel like making that ride and no one can blame him for not wanting to risk the discomfort at his age. Yet, all of the years of parades were on his mind. His conversation then shifted to the ages his parents lived to be (94 and 103 years old) and how much time he thinks that he still has on this earth. Yes, he is trying to determine how much longer he has on this earth before he will die. He is a Christian, therefore I hope that there is comfort in his heart about being with God ... he and I have not gotten to the point of discussing whether he is afraid to die or not.
Although this is a painful reality to me, I am certain that my feelings cannot compare to a lifetime of losses and remembering so much of everything; he is a prime example that growing old does not always mean that you lose your memories. I thank God for helping me understand such things through His word, as well as the wonderful Grandfather he blessed me with and the other people that he has placed in my life. As I grow older, I am starting to remember those that are no longer with me, too. I guess this is an unmentioned part of "the cycle of life" or am I a late bloomer?
Regardless, above all, my Grandfather is a reminder that there are so many other grandparents, parents, children, family members and friends that feel emotional on Memorial Day! I have "met" quite a few wives online that have recently lost their husbands and my heart goes out to them ... I pray that they will find comfort and that some one is keeping them close this Memorial Day!
I stopped saying "Happy Memorial Day" a long time ago ...
I find it more appropriate to say "thank you" to all of the brave men and women that have kept us safe and free over the years; as well as to the active soldiers that are handling what we do not understand and know about right now, too. I also feel it appropriate to keep those who survived wars in mind as they are the ones that have so many to remember, miss and honor on Memorial Day!
God Bless You!
In Motherly Love,
Mother Baby Child