Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'll Share Mine Too

Well, I had been waiting for Pat to talk about his dad, partly because it seemed more appropriate for him to do, but also partly because I didn't really know what to say. But, his idea was a good one, so I'll go ahead and share the same story that I told at my father-in-law's memorial service.

I had been stressed out over the logistics of the memorial, and still coming to terms with what had happened (for those who've been through this, you know how all of the mundane stuff to be settled can prevent you from actually dealing with your grief). And on top of all that, I was trying to figure out if I should speak at the memorial, and if so, what could I possibly say? And then, this happened . . .

A few nights ago, I couldn't sleep. Go figure.

So, I did what most people of my generation do when we can't sleep: I went online. I wasn't looking for anything in particular. But, in the way of the internet, I clicked a link, and then clicked another link . . . and several pages later, I stumbled across a Memorial Day article that a woman had written about her grandfather, whom she never had a chance to meet.

He was a WWII veteran, though he didn't die in service. He died about 30 years later -- shortly before the author was born -- from a sudden, massive heart attack. He was gone within minutes, before the paramedics ever got to his house.

It so completely devastated his family that, to this day, no one talks about him. The few things the author knows about her grandfather are just scraps of information she's managed to pick up over the years. But more often than not, any time she asks someone about his life or what he was like, they simply refuse to say anything.

Which is understandably frustrating for her . . . and sad.

She ends her article by saying:

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Remember your people. But not sadly. Tell stories. All the stories. Don’t keep them in. Tell them until your whole chest aches with them. Let your people live forever through you. It’s the best way you can memorialize them. It’s the best way you can remember. Do it all year long, but especially today. It’s not mourning. It’s celebration.

When I read this, I felt like I was meant to come across this article. It resonated with me for two reasons.

The first is that Jack passed on Memorial Day. Whatever the official purpose of the holiday, it will carry an added meaning for all of us from now on.

The second is that, like the author of this article, my children will never be able to meet their grandfather. But I want to be sure that, unlike the author, they still know him, as best as they possibly can.

The "article" I found is actually a blog post (I just wasn't sure that half my audience would know what a blog was) at Lucy's Football. I've paraphrased it here, but the full story is definitely worth reading. I'm really thankful for the serendipity of stumbling across it when I did.

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