It’s Memorial Day weekend in the US. A long weekend to commemorate the men and women who have died in military service to their country.
Small American flags are placed on veterans’ graves and families bring flowers to honor veterans as well as moms, dads, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends who died from all the ills that can slay us slowly or suddenly: old age, disease, accidents, broken hearts.
I have the joy of two children this weekend and one of our stops before going on the Swan Boats in Boston shall be at our family cemetery to say hello to their grandfather, my brother, their great grandfather and great grandmother, my parents. I’ll tell them about my Uncle Dan, who died of cancer in 1963 at 57, but who I remember still as one of my favorites in life.
I’ll ask them to tell their grandfather one thing about themselves that they’d like him to know because he might be listening. And, if they can’t think of anything right away, I’ll start:
“Timmy, 8 years old, is dreaming baseball, Papa Tim, and loves the Red Sox just like you.”
“Katie, age 5, once turned to me when I was driving by a cemetery and said, “Pappy, angels live in there.” And, when I asked her to tell me what angels were, she said, “”Angels are people who have died from cancer and gone to heaven.” She paused a moment, Papa Tim, and continued, “That’s just the way it is, Pappy.”
And, then, I’ll swallow hard and Timmy will say in a loud voice, “UH OH! JEEZ! You’re not going to cry are you, Pappy?”
“It’s just the way it is, sweet boy. It’s just the way it is.” And, they’ll take my hands and we’ll walk back to the car.
Small hands can fix just about everything in this wide world.
(And, what they can’t, this song from YOUTUBE attempts. 887,000 people have listened to “Fix You” by Coldplay sung by an elderly man from the Young at Heart chorus, now documented in a Movie, titled, “Young @ Heart.” Click here to listen.
Wherever you are on the broken spirit continuum this Memorial Day weekend, this shall let you know you are not alone even amidst the dappled sunlight and colorful flags or the absence of small hands.
©Pat Coakley 2008
PHOTOGRAPHS CANNOT BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.