Yesterday, in a relatively new Christmas Tradition, my sister and I went to visit our Dad. He resides now at the Sarasota Memorial National Cemetary. As those sorts of places go, it's quite lovely. It's also called Patriot's Plaza. There is even a 2800 seat ceremonial amphitheatre for programs honoring our veterans. Contained within 295 ares there is space for 18,200 casket burials, 7,000 columbarium niches and 500 inground cremations. On one hand, I appreciate the dignified and powerful impact of having a special place for our veterans to rest in peace. On the other hand, it is a space that is almost unbearably sad. And yet we went there on purpose. Holidays are, after all, about family, wherever they may be.
We stopped and bought flowers on the way. We chose a festive bouquet with a mix of various red and white flowers. We were greeted, upon arrival, by the sight in the photo above. Row after row of perfectly aligned, stark white, each with a wreath. It was definitely a "wow". I had forgotten about those amazing and wonderful volunteers who, every year, make it a point to be certain that every veterans gravesite has a Christmas Wreath. I love that it's Every Single Grave. These volunteers aren't skipping anyone who observe a different faith. This isn't about what religion, if any, they followed. This is about honouring their service to our country and this season of love, peace and joy. It's bigger than one small difference between people. It's about what they have in common instead.
Our Dad, was cremated and his remains are in one of the niches. The volunteers didn't leave them out. At the base of each column lay another wreath. Families have dotted these with their own additions of poinsettias and bouquets as we did.
Of course, this visit drove home that fact that someone is now mising from our lives and that made us a little weepy. I've heard other people suggest if it makes you sad, that you just skip it, don't go. Or at least don't go at Christmas, don't go on his birthday because it's too upsetting. Funny I couldn't imagine not going. The fact that he was important in our lives, that we miss him and it makes us sad just illustrates further how much he was loved.
I'm glad my sister and I went together. I'm lucky to have her to share that moment, to visit our Dad and wish him Merry Christmas one more time.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.