Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Yesterday, the girls and I spent Veterans' Day visiting with family and friends. We started with a visit to Mema's house (Gramby's mom), then we stopped at Joann Fabric's to pick up supplies for a paper chain American flag craft that my Daisy Girl Scout will be doing on Wednesday (in honor of Veteran's Day we are making this to donate to the new Veteran's Outreach Center). We stopped for lunch and then we headed over to the cemetery to pay our respects to my grandfather (my dad's father). He's been gone for almost 6 years and the girls and I have taken to stopping in to visit him once in a while. They love it - my little one sweetly runs up and hugs his headstone and we stop and tell him what we're up to and let him know that we're thinking of him. We especially wanted to honor him yesterday on Veteran's Day. My grandfather served in the Army Air Corps and then the Army Signal Corps in the South Pacific, during World War II. He and my grandmother had been married right before he went off to war in 1943. After we went to see Great Grandpa, we drove a few sections over to find the grave of a young soldier who had been killed in the Vietnam War. We learned about him this past summer when my husband's family was in town for the big family reunion. My brother-in-law, Joe, is very close to a retired priest who he met while they were both serving in the military. When he was younger, Joe's friend, Lou, had been friends with the young soldier who was killed in Vietnam and he had attended his funeral at one of our local cemeteries. He had always regretted not being able to get back to pay his respects once his headstone was placed. While they were in town this summer, Joe asked for directions to the cemetery and the girls and I offered to take him there and I helped him locate the grave site online. His family, the girls and I piled in the car and headed over to find this young man's grave and we brought large white paper and crayons so that Joe could make a rubbing of the headstone. The girls and I made a point to find this young soldier's grave again yesterday so that we could honor him for his service and sacrifice for our country and our freedom.
After that we ended our day of visiting with a trip to see Great Gram (my dad's mother). Gram is 91 years old and lives in nursing home. It was a beautiful day here yesterday - in the high 60's - and we grabbed Gram's coat and her wheelchair and wheeled her outside for a breath of fresh air. We sat close and told her about our day and told her about going to see Grandpa. We told her that while we visited his grave we told him about her 91st birthday celebration two weeks ago, and that I knew if he were here he would have reminded us that she's older than him - he was born a few months later and he always loved to tease her about that! Although, we would remind him that he may have been younger, but he'd had more birthdays than she had -- when he was in the war, he crossed the International Dateline on his birthday! The memory of his teasing made Gram laugh out loud, which was nice to hear. She also laughed when we told her that we are hoping to get Boston Terrier puppy sometime soon, and that if we get a boy, we will name it "Paddy" after the little iron Boston Terrier that was her mother's, and if it's a girl, we will name it "Mabel" -- which coincidentally was her mother's name... We just like the name and thought it would be sweet -- Gram laughed out loud when we told her, but she loved it, so that was good!
Our visit ended with us sitting out in front of the nursing home, watching a very beautiful sunset. Gram's eyesight is not great - she has macular degeneration and I'm never sure exactly what she can and can't see -- she once described it as someone holding their hand up in front of your eye and being able to see around that. But I know she could see some of the sunset -- the sun was SO big and beautiful and fiery orange. She commented on it and I was struck by what a nice moment it was to share with her and my girls. I hope I always remember that. In addition to her poor eyesight, Gram can't hear well and she is so frail these days. The girls and I try to go to visit her once a week. Sometimes I feel so tired at the end of a week and when we visit I feel like I need a lot of energy to carry the conversation between my girls and my gram. Sometimes I feel frustrated when we get there and she says loudly, "I haven't seen you in SO long!" And I remind her that we were just there the week before. She was a very active, vibrant person when she was younger (even 10 - 15 years ago!) and had tons of friends. And she has always been a VIP in my life -- we've always been very close and she means the world to me. It's hard some weeks to go and visit and see how different she is now and to know that she won't always be with us. I'm so thankful that my girls have got to spend so much time with her, and that they love to visit her -- just like they ask me, "Can we go see Great Grandpa?"
I hope that as they grow older and hopefully have their own children, that they will remember these visits. I hope that in some small ways my girls are learning about the importance of family, the importance of taking time to remember people who are no longer with us, the importance of respect - for those in need, for their elders, for their family, for their country and those brave men and women who serve their country - past, present and future.