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Friday, April 16, 2010

Requiem for a Cousin

We buried a Cousin today.

Visitation was last night. Visitation is Southern for “wake.” People came and said good things and told the usual lies about how “good” she looked. I hate that. The Undertaker had done a nice job but she was 78 and there is only so much that anyone can do after a death caused by a lengthy illness.

I prefer to remember people as they looked in better days. Me? I want to be cremated and my ashes scattered from the top of the full service Marriott or Sheraton hotel at LAX. Perhaps some small part of me will get lodged in some crack on a jet and I can satisfy my wanderlust for a few more years with no interference.

She was a sweet and kind person who had many friends and they came in numbers. Her husband, who served in Vietnam, is disabled because of that and visits the VA hospital regularly. They had no children but they were each other’s child and he misses her in a most terrible and obvious way. I don’t expect him to be far behind her.

She was laid to rest in the county graveyard. It is a peaceful place and well kept and suits her persona and demeanor quite well. It is one of those that have the markers at grass level. After the service I walked around a small bit and was struck by the numbers of “CPL US Army WWII,” “PVT US Army Korea,” “Seaman USN WWII” and on and on that were on the stones.

I suddenly felt that she was surrounded by men who had made it their business to protect our Ladies and our Children and found it comforting in a strange way. I wondered about their lives before they went and did the deeds that allowed them to have those simple copper plaques as remembrance and I wondered about their lives after they came home. Some in coffins, some wounded, some sane and sound. But all changed.

As her husband was.

A strong believer she had no fear of that good night and she is at peace tonight as those men around her are and as her husband will be.

“There were Giants in the Earth in those days.” Genesis 6:4

We live in their shadows and the shadows of those who loved and supported them. It is now our turn. What shadows will we cast?

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