I wanted to mark Memorial Day here at BCC. This is the first year that I have lived in adulthood near the graves of my ancestors, and I was grateful for the opportunity to share our Day of the Dead (as secular and patriotic as it is in our culture, it remains our special day to honor those who have left). After some advice, a bit of recovered memory, and an impulse, I found my father’s grave without having to consult the sexton’s list (walked right to it, on the north end of the rather large city cemetery). My children danced on the graves (such a different meaning when the act arises from innocence) then bore a solemn expression for a few seconds as I explained this was where the body of their grandfather rested. Their tiny throats issued a laugh of reassurance, as they explained to me that he is happy. The two-year-old, after pointing down the metal flower pot holder, asked whether his body were there. I explained yes, and she reported that he was growing up and pretty soon he would be “a nice grown up.” The four-year-old explained that he would rise again for the resurrection, and I need not worry. Then she sang songs about Jesus. I held the infant in my arms as I sought to remember my father.
He had many problems, primarily mental illness shrouded in disorders of personality, though he died of poorly managed diabetes. In remembering him, I would not whitewash the darkness, but I would like to conjure the light. My main memory is his introducing me to Romantic music, specifically Respighi’s Pini di Roma and perhaps Dvorak’s New World Symphony (the latter may be a created memory; I am not certain). He shared with me the thrill of merging literary imagination and the aesthetics of music, as we imagined the processions through the streets of Rome, the majesty of the fountains and forests. That image stuck with me when I saw him so tenderly play his viola or cry when he heard particularly powerful pieces of Romantic music. So God bless you, dad. We think of you. And, in answer to your granddaughter’s question, yes, I do miss you, warts and all.
Feel free to share other memorials of those who have passed in this space if you feel inclined.